Talking bout my generation, by Nat
May 30, 2007 20:57:40

The topic of MMORPG generations comes and goes, is frequently debated and it seems like everyone has a view on it or something to say. So why should I be any different?

This topic is something that I have been pondering about for quite a while and wanted to move the conversation away from generations of MMORPG's to generations of players and the expectations and accepted norms of these generations.

To accomplish this I am going to make too many generalizations to count, use my personal experience to represent a group of people, exaggerate - you know all the things that you would expect from some guy hammering away on a keyboard posting on the web.

I am of the generation that played D&D (1st addition) as a kid and can remember life before the Internet. I remember the internet before every 10 to 100 year old and my mother was on it (you remember don't you? You were most likely in college and the only other people on line were other reasonably educated people, geeks some would call us).

My generation developed MUD's and MUSH's. We took our table top games and made them into persistent worlds.

It was golden, persistent worlds fueled by our imaginations. One that existed not only among the guys sitting around your kitchen table anymore but one that everyone could play in. One that everyone could see your accomplishments. We didn't have to wait till Friday night to get our gaming fix, we could play whenever we wanted and we did (a lot).

Sure we all had dreams of virtual reality and knew this was were we wanted all this virtual world stuff to end up (and still do). But alas, the technology was not there yet so we settled for text and a modem because lets face it, it was "the next logical step" (bonus points for anyone who gets that reference).

Then MUD's became MMORPG's and we felt it was one step closer to our goal (virtual reality - remember).

Life was good and then we graduated, got married and all that. Now, we are all in our 30's or more and as Ryan pointed out in the latest MOG we are thinking of mini vans and white picket fences.

This my generation. This is the generation that is now building MMORPG's. So why in the hell are we all screaming for innovation and not getting it? According to Ryan (sorry to keep quoting MOG but their most recent podcast was very good and they are IMO poster children for our generation) the word at all the conferences they keep going to is innovation and how the genre is stale and everyone is looking to take it to the next level. So what the hell is the problem?

The problem is in the second MMORPG generation. They are where we were 15 or so years ago. They have tons of free time and are the ones game companies have to target to pay the bills.

Now I don't want to rag on this generation or make it sound like they are a problem and should all be taken behind the chemical shed and shot (this is an easy reference so no points for it). This generation has a different history than us, a different set of expectations. They didn't play D&D play MUD's or have to hide being a geek from the world so they could get girls or not get their ass kicked.

This second generation has learned the norms and formulated their expectations from recent MMORPG's and this is a problem. They have learned that things like leveling alts is a good thing while my generation remembers rolling new characters when you made a stupid move in table top and died.

Our norms and expectations come from PnP. We never wanted MUD's or MMORPG's, they were only means to an end. They were not table top and missed most of the things that made table top what it was. They were only steps in our goal to make PnP "real".

So now the sick twist of fate. Through our own actions we have raised a generation that looks at MMORPG's the same way we look at PnP.

Now it seems very clear that us older generation types want more from the genre. Hell just read some blogs like MMOCritic or the ones here at VW and it is clear as a bell. We want the next step to happen. The next step in the process we started way back when we made our PnP into MUD's.

Now Ryan seems to have knowledge of some secret SOE project that is working with some people who were instrumental in D&D 3.5 and he seems to think it just might be the step we are all waiting on. Sorry Ryan but I will believe it when I see it and not that I don't trust you but.

The problem is (even if the secret project is this next step) will the second generation embrace it? Will men in suits reading focus group report allow it to happen? Does our generation have the numbers to make it successful? I know we have the purchasing power but our numbers have thinned over the years.

We are all longing for what we had sitting in a basement long ago throwing dice, laughing, hanging with our buddies and imaging the grand story we were all a part of. PnP made real.

-Nat

Submitted by Brent on May 30, 2007 20:57:40 CST (comments: 4)


Comments:


'Consider Vice Versa' by scytale2
Submitted on 2007-05-31 11:59:01 CST
I can remember playing D&D 20 odd years ago and thinking wouldn't it be great if there was some computer graphics which could enhance the PnP game that we are playing...still waiting...




'do not agree' by Sente
Submitted on 2007-05-31 14:42:26 CST
DDO was attempting just that, to bring PnP D&D to the computer. It has not been a big success.
I'm in the generation that played PnP games 20-30 years ago, D&D, RuneQuest, Call of Cthuhlu, Traveller; Bushido etc - but I cannot say that I want those brought to the MMOG world.

Different media, different conditions - the core that should be captured is the socual aspects, the creative aspects (e.g. building your own campaigns and scenarios). The format and means to accomplish this could be very different.



'Same questions, different answers' by DamianoV
Submitted on 2007-05-31 15:39:21 CST
Sente: the point is, I think, that the designers need to ask the same questions they did the first time around (remember the "complexity vs. playability" debates of the late 70s letters columns and convention roundtables?), but realize that this time, the answers are going to be different.

IMO, DDO was less than fully embraced because it tried to take a game system designed for pen-and-paper (with small, largely cohesive, human-moderated groups playing together at scheduled times) and use it for an MMO (large, machine moderate groups with wildly diverse interests and goals playing on a completely unscheduled random basis).

It's like trying to build a skyscraper on the foundation for a 2-bedroom rambler... not the best choice.

On the other hand, there is a lot to learn from deconstructing the _entire_ PnP experience and looking at what was really required, soup to nuts... and no one is going to find a lot of those answers by simply scanning through the rulebooks.



'DDO and PnP' by Nezrak
Submitted on 2007-06-03 23:17:22 CST
I think DDO was a nice step foward the PnP session. Something just wasn't right, but there's various reasons for that. One thing was the graphics and the animations, something was fishy in DDO. If you take a game like WoW, EQ2 and Lotro, the animation just feels right. Probably the uncanny valley stuff coming back...

But well, that just make the games plain boring, if you cannot look at your character and say: wow it looks nice/cool/badass/cute, then, the game won't go far. I didn't had a nice feeling after entering the world with my character in DDO.

But well, I think there is some nice stuff that could happen in a DDO remake, patching the wrong stuff, and adapting a bit more the PnP games to the computer driven games.




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