Showing posts with label World of Warcraft. Show all posts

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Longevity: The Inherent Problem of Online Gaming

Since the inception of MMO gaming, there have been critics and champions of the genre. Many have claimed that the games are merely designed to extort money from players under the guise of providing a service or exaggerated grind fests that are meant to pad out an empty or shallow game. Perhaps one of the largest complaints of traditional gamers is that an MMO has no finite end and they do not wish to hear a story that will never end. However, this is not the fatal flaw of MMO gaming.

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The Inherent Problem

One thing that cannot be denied about MMO gaming are technical limitations. This does not refer to graphics or computer specs. The free to play game Runescape requires very little processing power, but has been popular for years. No, the technical limitations which ultimately doom an MMO game is the server. For server's are held up by the company which made the game and only for as long as it is profitable. Eventually, even the longest running MMO will have to be shut down. They cannot last as long as even the oldest nes games.

The Server Problem

No matter how feeble the hardware, a game can live on through it's software. Emulation of nes, snes and countless other game systems has proven that much. As many as thirty years after their creation, software from nes games persist online, in databases, in cartridges, they have many sources and can be reproduced easily, as demonstrated with the Wii's Virtual Console.

MMO games however, can only exist as long as they are willed by the servers. Even if the software persists, the world will be gone and the players who populate the world with it. Offline games can exist through their software alone, however, when a server goes down, an MMO game is gone for good. Asheron's Call 2, the Matrix Online, and Tabula Rasa among others are canceled MMO's, which can never be revisited. The server's are down, with grand events to close out their life times. No matter how much MMO players may want to deny it, they cannot play the game forever.

Time is Fleeting

No matter how old, so long as the software exists a game can be reborn. The problem with MMO gaming, even if people do not want to admit it, is that time spent on them is gone for good. All that remains are the memory's of the game. In this way, time is fleeting, for even if the story of a game is great, such as the epic cinematic story telling of WoW, or even the simple, buggy storytelling of Asheron's Call, players will never be able to revisit it once gone.

In this way, MMO games are limited when compared to offline games. They may last for decades, but once they disappear they can never be revisited. A good book, a beloved film, and especially ancient games can be reproduced as long as the software exists. However, MMO games are built for the players and with the players. When the by and the with disappear, it is nothing at all.

Take Heart

This problem is one that many may not face for years. Everquest has endured since 1999, for over 11 years. There is no reason to despair or to be upset. A game is meant to be enjoyed. Even if all that is left are the memories of times spent with comrades, playing, raiding, and questing, this is not so bad a fate. Players who enjoy the game need not fear the end which will eventually come.

MMO games cannot persist as offline games do, mainly because of their player centric and money making needs. Despite that, like any game, they are meant to be enjoyed. They will not last forever, but sometimes the best things in life hit like a bolt of lightning and vanish with just as much speed.

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

MMOs In the Spotlight at E3 2010

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E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is an annual event that is widely considered to be the most important expo in the video game industry. In 2010 it was held from June 15-17 in Los Angeles and featured exhibits from over 120 companies. Every segment of the gaming industry is represented at E3, including the growing share of MMOs.


Interestingly enough the behemoth of the MMO market, Blizzard and their game World of Warcraft, did not have an exhibit at E3 in 2010. Blizzard is expected to release their latest WoW expansion, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, in the Fall of 2010 and some speculate that they are waiting until after that time to engage in a massive media campaign. The absence of Blizzard, however, meant that other, smaller MMO development companies had an easier time getting their product in the spotlight.

E3 2010 MMOs Coming Soon

Lord of the Rings Online and its publisher Turbine released information about the first expansion they will release under the controversial new "free-to-play" business model. Expected in late 2010, the content will include a new zone, updates to the current UI, superior graphic options, and, of course, the highly anticipated new LotRO store.

Final Fantasy XIV, by Square Enix, is the spiritual successor to Final Fantasy XI and was another big name in MMOs at E3. FFXIV is due for release in the Fall of 2010, and caters heavily to the Playstation 3 and Japanese markets. The general impression of reviewers at E3 is that FFXIV looks gorgeous, even if the gameplay is still currently a little clunky.

Another popular title that is due out soon is Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic. SWTOR was also a popular subject at E3 in 2009, but this year they promoted their Spring 2011 release date with both a gameplay booth on the show floor and a new cinematic trailer.

E3 2010 MMOs Coming... One Day

Of course developers with imminent releases will show up to E3 with playable demos and full cinematics, but the Expo is also the game industry's place to announce and advertise titles years in advance.

The popular tabletop war game Warhammer 40000 (and their Intellectual Property owner, Games Workshop) announced the development of Warhammer 40000: Dark Millennium Online. The announcement came with a much-watched trailer, and a somewhat disappointing release date of 2013. Dark Millennium received a lot of hype at E3 2010, but it remains to be seen if the attention can be sustained over the course of three years.

Also planning ahead is Interplay, the publishers of Fallout and Fallout 2. During E3 in 2010 they released a teaser site to announce the creation of Fallout Online, a post-apocalyptic MMO. Interplay released little more than a single image and a form to sign up for beta testing, but the response by the game press and players was very positive. The game is expected to hit the shelves in late 2013.

The 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo is the place for game publishers both large and small to display their ideas and work for each other and for the world at large. Between LotRO's new expansion this fall and the predicted arrival of Fallout Online in late 2013, it appears that the MMO industry has many new lands and surprises in store for its players over the coming years.