to the 1,292nd
of Loading...

Loading... is the premier daily
MMOG news, coverage, and
commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

Is bigger always better? It depends on the topic, but in
reference to MMO gaming the answer is...sometimes. Join Karen
"Shayalyn" Hertzberg as she examines how size matters in online worlds
in today's Loading...How Big Is Too Big?


The Pulse

You vote with what you
view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
is the Ten Ton Pulse ( target="_blank">What
is The Pulse?).

are today's top 5 Pulse results over the
last week:

  1. World
    of Warcraft
  2. EverQuest
  3. Lord
    of the
    Rings Online
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/88">Warhammer
  5. EVE

movers in the last seven days

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2079">Final
    Fantasy XIV Online (UP 69 to #16)
  2. EverQuest (Down 5 to _13)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/42">Star
    Wars Galaxies (UP 4 to #18)
Recent Releases

  • March

    - Mortal

  • March

    - APB
  • April

    - href="http://www.cityofheroes.com/news/game_updates/issue_17/issue_17_overview.html?utm_source=COHemail&utm_medium=US&utm_campaign=banner">City
    of Heroes: Issue
  • style="font-weight: bold;">Spring 2010
    - Mytheon
  • TBA

    - Final
    Fantasy XIV

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Spring 2011
    - Star Wars:
    The Old


  • style="font-weight: bold;">3/26 - 3/28
    - PAX
    East 2010
  • style="font-weight: bold;">6/15 -
    6/17 - E3
  • style="font-weight: bold;">6/25 -
    6/27 - Looking
    for Group
  • style="font-weight: bold;">8/5 -
    8/8 - href="http://events.station.sony.com/fanfaire/">SOE
    Fan Faire 2010


I have a confession to make: as of this morning I had no clue what I
was going to write about for Loading... today. And I don't even have a
blurry St. Paddy's Day green-beer-swilling pub crawl hangover for an
excuse because a) those pub crawls won't happen until this evening, and
b) I'm not much for green beer swilling.

Finally, as of five minutes ago, was reminded of the suggestion of a
smartass friend who happens to be off work this week with
nothing better to do than instruct me to write articles
with titles that contain obvious double entendres. Since I got
nothin'...here goes. The proposed topic was How Big Should It Be?
(The obvious answer being "pretty damn big.") But I think I'll
change that up a bit and try to answer this
question instead: How Big Is Too Big?

Let me start off saying that, from my perspective bigger is better. And
that is, of course, my perspective as a gamer. (What were you
thinking?) I like big games and I cannot lie. Smaller games have the
capacity to amuse me for a while, but the enormous ones are really
where it's at.

Okay, okay...let me slip into a groove that sounds more like I'm
talking about gaming, because I really am. (And
from this point forward I'm going to try to stop being punny, I
promise. Whatever puns you pick up on from here on out are the product
of your own dirty mind.) The games that have drawn me in have always
been the ones with lots and lots of territory to explore. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/38">EverQuest
was my first (give me a break; I'm trying here!), and I loved the way I
could get lost in Norrath. I loved that no matter what level I happened
to be there were at least a dozen different places (if not more) that I
could head to and gain some experience. While EverQuest
certainly did have its places that were the places
to be to grind out the most experience in the shortest amount of time,
you were never absolutely committed to going there. There was always
another option.

One of the things I liked least about  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2">EverQuest II
at launch was that it lacked the vastness that was EverQuest.
It was a great game with stunning graphics for its time, and with tools
and mechanics that still outshine many games coming to market 5 years
later. But it was, relatively speaking, small. And that
meant a player's progression in the game was linear, to say
the least. Most players saw the same damn zone (with very
few exceptions) for at least 10 levels in a row before
progressing to the next zone, where they'd spend another 10 levels. I
stuck with EQ until I was around level 35 my first run through, but
then I found I couldn't handle logging in to the same ol' sameness.

To SOE's credit, they've since beefed up EQ2 with new races and
starting areas and added a ton of content not only to appease the end
game folks but to give those who found the early game too limited
incentive to come back. For these reasons, and for its high level of
polish, I still say that EQ2 is one of the best games out there. If you
haven't played it since launch, you owe it to yourself to take a second
look. You can run out and buy the latest expansion, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/81356">Sentinel's
, and get the base game and all previous
expansions included.

So, if bigger is clearly better, and most gamers seem to prefer a huge
expanse of game real estate to explore as opposed to a linear
progression through a limited number of areas, then why don't all
developers build huge games?

For starters, obviously, it's expensive. It generally takes a big
budget to build a big game, particularly if that game is going to be
polished and rock solid, as we all hope our games will be. But building
big games is also risky. When a developer creates a huge game world
he's betting on his game's popularity, putting all his chips on the
table and saying, "When this game launches, and as players progress,
these zones are going to be bustling with activity."

No one likes the feeling of being all alone in a massively multiplayer
game. In certain dungeons (I'm thinking of EQ's Castle Mistmoore, for
example) it could feel creepy and atmospheric to take your group into
an otherwise uninhabited area, but no one wants to find themselves
completely alone (or alone with a bunch of NPCs) at what should be a
populated outpost or, worse yet, in a village or city. I remember
feeling forlorn trotting through some of the major hubs in
Vanguard and not encountering another soul other than the merchant NPCs
who occasionally tried to wave me over to buy their wares, or the
guards who shuffled solemnly past. Those empty cities served as a stark
reminder that first impressions are everything, and that rushing a game
to launch, no matter how inevitable that rush may be, can result in one
very big and very lonely MMOG.

So, how big is too big? I think there's a fine, and difficult,
balance to achieve. A too-small game can feel restrictive, yet a too
big game without a population to support it can feel empty and, even if
it's a solid game, leave players with the sense that the rats
have begun to abandon the ship. The bottom line is that a MMOG can only
be as big as its anticipated audience. Upcoming games with huge worlds
include Final
Fantasy XIV
and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2339">TERA.
Will they achieve that all-important critical mass--a huge game with a
huge population? I hope so. It's been a long time coming.

Share your thoughts on great big games in the href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=50202">Loading...

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=426">Loading...

Blizzard Goes Free-to-Play

All it took was one Loading..., penned by Ten Ton Hammer's Executive
Editor Ben de la Durantaye, to start a fire. And the fuel was a rumor
that Blizzard is looking to get into the free-to-play action with a
game of their own. How did your community respond? You'll have to see
for yourself, and then href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=50181">jump
into the fray.


Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

"Meh, if it happens it happens. Personally I've been surprised
that the 'big' games like WoW, DAO, etc... are not dead and buried
already. Profit margin wise it is better to produce tons of cheap games
instead of crossing your fingers and hoping one of your expensive games
strikes gold



Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=32559">Tell

and Exclusive Content
Today at Ten Ton Hammer

6 new Ten Ton Hammer
today! 71 in March! 301 in 2010!

GDC 2010

Star Wars: The Old Republic Lead Writer Interviewed at GDC 2010


is incredibly important in Star Wars: The Old Republic, so it stands to
reason that the writing team is involved at all levels of the project.
That's one big reason why we were thrilled to speak with Lead Writer
Daniel Erickson at the LucasArts campus during our recent trip to GDC

Nexon Unveils Vindictus at GDC 2010


in time for St. Patrick's Day, Nexon has unveiled a multiplayer action
RPG steeped in Celtic lore, but the story is just the beginning. Join
Ten Ton Hammer and Nexon's Min Kim as we look at the "brutal elegance"
of Vindictus, a hub-and-instance crawler with incredible graphics,
animation, and destructible objects courtesy of Valve's Source Engine.


EQ2 Gears of Klak'Anon Strategy Guide


Much of the knowledge you gain about EverQuest II's battlefields comes
through trial and error--lose enough and you will learn exactly what
not to do! If you'd like to deal with a little less error and learn
some strategy that will get your through the Gears of Klak'Anon
successfully, we have some tips that may just give your team the
winning edge.

Global Agenda Medic PvE Guide


Medic of Global Agenda is the only true healer in the game, and it's
what the class does best in PvE by a long shot. Healing isn't easy
though, and with so many healing weapons available and only 4 slots to
bring them in, which do you take for your mission?

Star Trek Online: Captain's Blog, Over Communicating Or TMI?


Trek Online is turning over a new leaf in the real world PvP arena,
also known as community relations. Promising greater communication and
transparency, the Cryptic Studios team has promised to keep us in the
loop. Knowing everything isn't a panacea, though, as Medeor warns in
this week's Captain's Blog.

WoW: The Basics to Guild Leadership


leadership can be tough in World of Warcraft. Not only is it hard to
get a guild off the ground but it can be even harder keeping the guild
happy and drama free. We've got a ton of helpful tips for both
casual/social guilds and hardcore guilds in our latest article on guild
leadership. Want to start or run your own guild? This article is
definitely for you.

Hottest Articles and Guides

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/swtor_erickson">Star
    Wars: The Old Republic
    Lead Writer Interviewed at GDC 2010 href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/swtor_erickson">

  2. Democratizing
    DDO -
    Turbine Reveals New
    Facts and Figures at GDC 2010
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/cryptic">Boldly
    Going - A GDC 2010 Interview with Cryptic's
    Bill Roper and Craig Zinkievich
  4. TERA
    Preview at GDC 2010
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/CivilizationV">Conquest
    and Diplomacy - A Look at Sid Meier's Civilization V
  6. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/reviews/finalfantasyXIII">Final
    Fantasy XIII
  7. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/Mytheon">Clash
    of the Titans! Mytheon
    at GDC 2010
  8. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/starcraft2/preview/multiplayer_1stimpressions">StarCraft
    Multiplayer Beta Preview & First Impressions
  9. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2/guides/brewday2010">EverQuest
    Brewday 2010 Walkthrough
  10. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/vindictus">Nexon
    Unveils Vindictus at GDC 2010 href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/events/gdc2010/vindictus">

for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer

- Karen "Shayalyn" Hertzberg and the
Ten Ton Hammer team

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.