Why Legacy Hardcore MMOs Don't Work

By David Piner -
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So my car battery had died over the weekend and it really tests who is a friend, who is out of town, and who says they’re out of town but you find later at the grocery store. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about another column released by our H.D.I.C. Shay.

Pantheon is the anti-thesis of what I want in an MMO. I want to go forward and merge the single and multiplayer experience into one (GO DESTINY) and make vibrant large worlds filled with players, but with game mechanics that are new, fresh, and fun. A lot of MMO gamers I know would rather boot up the original Evercrack and freebase a few more doses each day. Which is cool, but, the magic won’t be there.

My previous article discussed a little bit about how the magic is contained to the decade. Right now you could have a collection of 8-track tapes sitting in your house for every song that you love and you could, to listen to a song, get an 8-track and put it into the player, fast-forward with your fingers crossed it’s not going to mess the tape up, find the song, and listen. To change songs, you’ll need to get up and change the tapes out.

For some, 8-tracks sound AMAZING, or any analog music source. I’m in that club, I appreciate both the depth of sound in an 8-track or a cassette or a vinyl and I also appreciate the clarity of a 44hz CD recording with it’s sterile sound and more data theoretically than your ear can accept. What I appreciate more is the lossy formats available instantly online and the fact I can have a huge collection that sounds almost as good without it taking up physical space.

Sometimes we pay a price to move forward. For MMO subscribers, it’s the social element that we have to pay the most for. In the days of ‘yore there wasn’t a lot to do in games. So the general idea is that you talked. There was a long delay to regenerate health and mana, combat was slow, and there just was all of these people in this giant virtual chatbox and talking was the most interesting part.

Then came voice and people quit wanting to type to each other for entertainment, they wanted to talk, and then games started adding in faster combat, less downtime, and more active activities. As a result, there was no longer this great desire to sit around a campfire and talk to each other. The actual game consumes everyone’s time and the social element switched from a primary trait to a secondary.

Looking back, it was great when we were all huddled together in a game. It was like when the power was out and everyone sort of stares at each other and realizes there are other Humans in existence. Yet the trade off was there was literally NOTHING to do. In DAoC you would pull a group of say two mobs, fight them for 3 minutes, then sit for 5 to 10. Sitting isn’t fun, we had to make it fun. But it was great and memorable and cool at the time.

Take the modern gaming audience, shove them in a room, and say “talk until there is something to do” and they’ll log off. Which is why a lot of modern takes on “hardcore MMOs” aren’t in existence. Pantheon didn’t hit its funding goal because people aren’t ready to put their money back in the past.

I also think something interesting is that before, bad game practices were so easily forgiven because of the technology. Now, if you mess up, it’s easy to know you have because the benchmark is so high now and you can’t say technology is a limitation anymore. Another reason it’s hard to bring the magic forward is because a lot of the previous methods of development don’t work anymore and games that were in development in the days of ‘yore have learned the hard lesson of failure as players aren’t satisfied with half finished ideas and feature creep so big that nothing is excellent and everything just feels half-assed.

That’s all I’ll say today about returning to the past with “hardcore” MMOs. I say we should define a new “hardcore” standard. Create new games that have new metrics for what is and isn’t hardcore. Think of an MMO where there was steep death penalties, but these penalties presented themselves as a different path to move forward, not necessarily a flat XP reduction. Skills that require precision and tight hit-boxes could elevate a game to hardcore.

Anyway, tomorrow we’ll talk about… I don’t know! Find out when we get there. See you then.

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About The Author

David "Xerin" Piner
Get in the bush with Xerin every week for his column, Respawn, as he analyzes the hottest trends, buzz topics, and absurdities in MMO gaming. In addition to his ongoing war against early access titles.

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