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August 21, 2008



Nobody asked for Tetris, but it was suddenly hot stuff when it showed up. It wasn't like Bejewelled or half a dozen followers on, an evolution of the concept.

The thing with revolutionary changes is that they are not obvious. No customer ever asks for revolution. I spent 8 years going to lunches with customers and asking them what they wanted in our product line. They always gave me very nice, often very detailed, incremental changes they wanted to the product.

Revolutionary change is like art, it cannot be done by committee, it cannot be planned out, it cannot be foreseen. It will come upon us by surprise from some little speck of a company that we've never heard of before.


Given that the bulk of current MMO players in North America started with Runescape or WoW in the last few years, I think there is little reason to suppose that they are burned out in Diku MUD style games.

The only ones that think WAR would have been a better game if EA had dumped it's millions into an experimental game design are jaded bloggers game design purists. I think an experimantal game design is fine if you want to go after a niche market. But dumping big money into the development of one is insane.

For every tetris you stumble upon you'll go through 20 basic designs that just aren't very fun. I think it's telling that tetris was originally designed and released with little thought of profit in mind. The original designer didn't even copyright it (much to his later chagrin I'm sure).

Whatever the next big revolution in MMO design is, I imagine it will come out of low budget development space. Somebody will stumble on something that pushes the genre forward, and then EA, Blizzard, or some other company will steal the basic idea and make a ton of money off of it (ala Rogue ---> Diablo).

And really, I have to concur with Wilhelm. When I get bored with a game that I really like, I generally want something that's pretty similar for a replacement. I wouldn't try to replace the hole left by Monopoly with Chinese Checkers or Battleship.


And by Wilhelm...I meant LM...doh!


Yep, have to agree with you two. I like to play particular types of games, and when I've finished one, I am looking for something similar.
I don't go looking for a 'revolutionary' game once I get to the shops.

Was HALO revolutionary? Not really, but I was simply blown away by the graphics and the game play. I was so hooked on this game, despite its repetitive levels, that I completed it on Legendary.
Once I was bored by HALO, I got FAR CRY. Not much different to HALO, but was I whining to all and sundry that 'I already played this game, and it was called HALO'? No.

Revolutionary game design for me is synonymous with Nintendo. Go buy a Wii if current PC games fail to satisfy!


@Yeeboo and you mean to agree with me also since that was the premise of the post. :-)

If I want a change from something I love, I'm more inclined to look for something similar. So I dont understand the nay-sayers who posting that if you liked WOW stay there and dont bother with WAR. In my mind it's the opposite. If you like WOW but want a change, you're very likely to enjoy WAR.


@Wilhelm - I agree that it will be something unforseen. My chief disagreement with some of what is being posted on blogs is that because a game isn't revolutionary or evolutionary, it would be labeled as having failed on some level. A game doesnt have to be either of those things to be fun.


Another thought about gamers needing revolutionary games, I'll point more to the contrary with Ryzom. I didnt follow the details of all their woes but they obviously ran out of funding. For all the uniqueness about this game, I personally didn't like it at all. It obviously didn't attract swarms of paying customers or I'd have to assume their financial prospects would have been better.

I understand they've been acquired and are back online. As a continued debate on this idea that games minus revolutionary or evolutionary ideas as bordering on subpar, let's see how many users Ryzom actually attracts once it's fully on it's feet, since it has been talked about in the past as being evolutionary at the least.


If you like WOW but want a change, you're very likely to enjoy WAR.

Yet, it is not THAT much of a change. Similarities DO exist, no matter who says different.

The long time WoW players will enjoy WAR.
It at least makes changes to the way people HAVE been doing things.
From questing, which had become such a solo affair, to battlegrounds which get repetitive, WAR takes these features that people liked and "fixes" them.
Grouping is more efficient (thanks to open groups), questing is not a hassle (thanks to PQ's and open groups) and RvR changes the "Battleground" dynamic.

But, if people are done with the way WoW does the game (that would be ME!), then WAR will NOT change anything for that player.

AoC broke me of the combat, Guild Wars broke me of the questing style...that I just do not want another WoW type game.

But, for those who do still like that style, WAR will be new and fresh and fun...
Hope everyone enjoys.


@Open - Given your statements, I wouldnt classify you as "Like WOW and want a change". You're no longer in that category. You dont want a WOW-like game at all, so a WOW-like game wouldn't suit you no matter how well it's executed. And players that want a revolutionary game wouldn't either. I'm just surprised about the amount of noise that WAR isn't very different from WOW or revolutionary. I'm not sure where people got the impression that it would be.


Why does every Diku-MMO have to be called "WoW-like?" Did WoW invent Diku? No? Didn't think so. WAR isn't WoW-like so much as it's just Yet Another Diku-MMO in a sea of Diku-MMO's. If you can play one, you can play them all. That includes AoC, by the way.

Count me as one who is looking for a revolution, a whole new way, a whole new paradigm for playing a MMOG.

HOWEVER. That does not mean I'm refusing to play the current crop of Diku-MMO's either. Each brings something new and unique to the table, minor evolutions or innovations on top of the Diku-inspired mechanics that lie under the hood. For many, WoW has what they're looking for. EQ2 has it for others, and it offers a different experience than WoW. For me, as a writer, LOTRO offers a PvE experience in a true MMO with well-written quests, epic quest lines that intersect my character with The Fellowship from time to time, and a world design that chronologically follows their journey rather than plunking the entire world down at once. GW also offers a good story-based experience while lacking a full MMO experience and not using Diku either, which I love. GW and LOTRO each scratch a different itch for me, just as Vanguard does and WAR might too.

For all the original Big Boys of MMO's there have been improvements and new takes on the existing PvE, sometimes even PvP, themes presented back then. But there was only one DAOC, and for the PvP-oriented, there was no true substitute for RvR and only Mythic can do RvR, so for all the DAOC fans who left because of its flaws or even those who stuck around in spite of them, WAR finally for them provides the "next generation" of RvR gaming, whereas the rest of us have had tons of PvE choices.


I would probably be interested in Warhammer if EA wasn't involved with it. It looks to be an interesting game, more of an updated version of WoW if you will. However, I care not at all for Electronic Arts and their business model. Thus, I will not be playing Warhammer.


@Scott - You're a gamer true but anyone who can deliver the background on gaming that you just provided in your comment, isn't the average gamer. You're the Porche gamer. I'm the Toyota gamer. The masses are probably somewhere closer to where I am or even lower budget in their gaming tastes. I can't fault developers for not pulling out all the stops on so-called Next-Gen or revolutionary ideas when it's not clear if the masses are in anyway unsatisfied with the current pace of the genre. Millions of people just woke up to MMOs four years ago and are still playing with training wheels on.


I wasn't really trying to give *my* background in gaming as much as simply trying to make the point that in the past decade all us PvE players have had so many games to find one (or some) that fit what we're looking for. PvP players have had fewer, and the RvR players have had no other choices other than DAOC. I have no DAOC experience and only a vague idea of what RvR *really* means in a "big picture" sense.

Porche or Toyota, training wheels or no, you and I have had plenty of choices over the past several years. The DAOC or RvR fans haven't, and I think that may be the greater thing WAR could represent - finally bringing another choice for that particular style of game play.


Splendid article Saylah with good insights into the mindset of a player which is sometimes lost on designers and pundits.

I agree that gamers probably don't actively seek out revolutionary games. I doubt most of them even ponder the notion. Most gamers see games and MMO's from a consumer point of view; if they see something they might like, they are willing to give it a shot. Wilhelm is right, the players really don't start revolutions, they just follow them.

From a designer's point of view I think there are many of us out there that a bit concerned that we aren't moving as quickly toward the notion of the the ultimate virtual world which is something like the holodeck as featured in the Star Trek: Next Generation TV series. That's the kind of virtual world experience that I aspire to create and someday be a part of.

The quantum leap from text based MUD to graphical MUD like EverQuest where thousands of players could interact with each other at the same time was revolutionary. But we have a long way to go if we are to realize the full potential of virtual worlds. I think the fact that the MMO industry is currently stalled on the highway toward that ultimate destination is what has people like Richard Bartle and others a bit worried.

I do agree with Saylah that for many WoW players this is their first MMO so they didn't get to experience that revolution from MUD to MMO first-hand. Perhaps we veterans have grander expectations for the true potential of virtual worlds because we saw where MMO's came from.

Yeebo nailed when he says that the next MMO revolution will come from out of left field -- probably from a small, quirky indie developer out there.

Ultimately I think many MMO gamers are a bit tired of the whole Groundhog Day MMO gaming experience where players log on and essentially do the same thing over again. It's a good sign for the MMO world when we do have gamers like Scott and others who want something more and aren't afraid to say so.

In the end it's a good sign to have gamers that are so passionate and vocal about what they do. Hopefully it will translate into better MMO's for us all.


@Wolfs - thanks for the compliment and your comment. My concern comes from not seeing designers out weigh the importance of evolutionary over sheer fun. In the past two years I've purchases several A title games that didn't get played more than a couple of weeks. Since my family plays MMOs, most of these games were purchased x2. We bailed because the games didn't deliver what was promised, were too buggy or not fun. Someone please fix that problem first. :-)

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