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Apr 20, 2005

Comments

101.

Hi FantasyMeister,

Maybe I'm just too optimistic of the motivation behind this move by Sony.

If this was done based on greed, than I think I would be worried. But, as yet the only thing that I see Sony getting out of this at this point is possibly less CS calls, although that is yet to be seen.

If this was done based on defeat, than I think I would be worried. There is a fair bit of evidence, that despite quite an effort, they were unable to stop the black market trading. To some this might be seen as an admission of defeat, but I think I would have to ask, if that was the case, why not declare defeat on all servers, or at least on the servers where CS call load is the heaviest.

My personal take is that they did this because they recognized a player demand for the service. Again, because they are setting up new servers, I'm somewhat inclined to say that this is going to be a totally 'new service'.

That said, if I were to make one recommendation, I think it would be that they could look into starting a 'economy-less' (no trade, no auctions, all no drop: except orginal sale of crafted items) server at the same time. I think that by leaning too far to the right on economic issues they risk alienating the left. As such, they may want to at least do something that gives similar attention to the other side of the player spectrum which has clearly shown evidence of increasing demand.

-bruce

102.

Plugh wrote:

In systems for which the rewards are the results of such (in-system) activity, outside influences such as the discussion entail, are a direct bypass of the entire point for which the system exists

I think you're operating under a misconception regarding "the entire point for which the system exists." Commerical MMOS exist to make money off their customers. That is the entire point of the system. From a customer's point of view, presumably the point is to have fun. People have fun in different ways. You might like sitting hitting the 'kill monster' button a gazillion times, but others, such as myself, don't. I just want to explore the world, see cool stuff, whack a few monsters here and there when I feel like it, etc. My gaming experience is nothing but improved by the opportunity spend money to speed my progress towards unlocking content.

--matt

103.

I find it amusing that people seem to want to divide everyone into the "time" vs. "money" camp when it comes to these issues. The vast majority of the gamer population actually falls into the middle of the road here. Most MMO players spend significantly more time gaming than normal people, but they also will look to maximize their effeciency when they can and if that means spending $3 on an item that might take them 30 hours of game time, it seems like a no-brainer.

Aside from the farmers who do this from a living and then broker through someone like IGE, I just think those cases are pretty rare.

I would be willing to be that most heavy BUYERS of virtual items are also the biggest SELLERS of these items. People who have spent money to obtain virtual items are very likely to then try to sell other virtual items to recoup those costs. There are also many people that are interested in changing servers or even games that want to try to keep their game time investment when they make the switch - they do this by liquidating their assets from their old server and then trying to obtain similar assets on thier new server. This just makes sense - someone who has invested hundreds or thousands of hours into a game does not want to throw that all away and "re-earn" the same stuff. The only way to do these types of transactions is currently though external markets.

Throw out your notions of people "cheating" in a game for a second and think about how NORMAL people will use safe and secure trading. If someone from the US goes to vacation in Canada, are they expected to go there peniless and broke, get a job there and work for a month just so they can pay to enjoy their vacation for a few days? Converting US dollars to Canadian dollars - and back again is not "cheating".

104.

Barry Kearns wrote:
I believe that it's certainly possible to design fun and interesting MMO games, largely similar to today's offerings, but adding in the quality of being twink-proof (and therefore also largely eBay-proof), and that's why I've been working on a proof-of-concept economic and game model... which will hopefully show what I mean.

I believe the answer is in game design, not appeals to ethics and EULAs.

Then Matt Mihaly wrote
Virtually every real-world country (every? I don't know) allows people to gain things purely as a function of who their parents are.

So far, all the game design ideas, like Farmer's KidTrade (TM) and Barry's unspecified project, all involve reducing eBaying.

But it seems to me that a game design that had the concept of sudden unearned wealth within it would actually solve almost all of the problems I have with eBaying, without getting rid of eBaying itself.

Player A: "You're level 1!!! Where'd you get all that gear?!?!?! TWINK!!!!"

Player B: "Nay, fool, I have merely inherited a tidy fortune from my departed Father."

B can role-play eBaying if the right lore concept exists. And all I care about is the magic circle: does the design incent the players to act as if they were in another world? Yes. And to preserve justice, fairness, and merit, just make it so there are plenty of fine things in the world that simply cannot be attained with any amount of real or virtual money. They can be either skill-based, or friend-based, or time-based. Just not money-based.

See, from a role-playing fantasy perspective there's nothing inherently wrong with having money-based (or equivalently, tradeable item-based) advancement. The problem is when all games have pretty much only that as the marker of prestige or success, and they also explicitly declare that one element of player trading - trading in one particular kind of item, the US dollar - to be fantasy-breaking. Well, if that's your game design, you can expect to have the fantasy broken.

I would love it if all future games have some room in the lore for the concept of sudden, unearned wealth. Note that this not only does not preclude rags-to-riches storylines - it actually gives them even deeper validation. If you really do work your way up from nothing, you will look that much more impressive.

Hell, here's an easy way to instantiate this: at character creation, you can buy a crest. If you buy a crest, you're a member of a noble family. You get a manor, millions of gold pieces, a horse, everything. Other characters can be knighted but only through hard work in the game. In the endgame, everyone will have noble crests, but some will have been slowly earned while others were purchased outright. What fun role-play opportunities there are in this. The insufferable superiority of those born to wealth versus than smug self-confidence of the social climbers.

Anyways, instead of wasting time trying to take away supply and demand incentives, let's think about changing what the lore of an MMORPG is so that those demand and supply incentives don't puncture the membrane.

Actually, I am fairly sure this was all tried in "Mongolian Invasion," a 198X MUD, where it sucked and was replaced by a gear-based rags-to-riches system 2 months after launch.

105.

I think you're operating under a misconception regarding "the entire point for which the system exists." Commerical MMOS exist to make money off their customers. That is the entire point of the system.

From a customer's point of view, presumably the point is to have fun. People have fun in different ways. You might like sitting hitting the 'kill monster' button a gazillion times, but others, such as myself, don't. I just want to explore the world, see cool stuff, whack a few monsters here and there when I feel like it, etc. My gaming experience is nothing but improved by the opportunity spend money to speed my progress towards unlocking content.

--matt


Yes, you are correct, the 'system' may exist to make money off of players (well many do), I should have specified from the player POV.

Your comment above proves my point, "I just want to explore the world, see cool stuff, whack a few monsters here and there when I feel like it, etc." That is in essence, 'the point' to playing systems as these.

If you simply buy the 'cool stuff' and 'unlocked content' (via purchased accounts), your robbing yourself of the very experiences your trying to purchase.

Cheating the system, and yourself.

106.

Real money for stuff in MMOGs has been here for a while (IGE for example), but SOE is the first to officially support and thus encourage it with their Exchange system.

The real question is, will this ruin gameplay, and if so, for how many players? If it ruins it for too many, it kills the game, rendering meaningless the 40% savings SOE expects in customer support costs and whatever carrying charge income they get from the transactions themselves.

MMORPGs have many different aspects of gameplay, but are uniformly driven by the advancement-carrot-dangling-over-the-treadmill: go a little further, level-up again, and get some goodies. WoW is popular because you can move along the treadmill toward the top faster and more easily than most games, including doing it solo if you want.

If the player's "end state" when he finally exhausts all the treadmill can offer is exactly the same as what he can buy, then only the experience of the treadmill remains as a lure, not the reward. I believe most gamers are reward-driven, so if all rewards can be purchased, most players will abandon the game. Therefore you MUST arrange it so that some rewards cannot be purchased.

In addition to player knowledge and skill, if you disallow buying and selling of entire accounts then there are many design techniques available to insure that some rewards cannot be bought, but instead must be earned. Levels themselves are one example, quest rewards that go immediately to the quester (a la DAoC) are another.

The real danger here is ex-post-facto applying monetization of game rewards within a game never designed for them. In fact, every SOE MMORPG was deliberately designed around the philosophy that monetization was expressly forbidden. As a result, I believe SOE's experiment is bound to have mixed results, simply because I can't imagine them making the necessary design overhauls to transform these games into something that beautiful supports the concept of monetization.

Finally, I must note that while Eastern MMORPGers are a highly-competitive lot who enjoy beating out their fellow gamers, most Western MMORPGers are non-competitive players who clearly favor a more cooperative experience. They're going to hate seeing all the best camps occupied by shifts of money-grubbing, foul-mouthed teenagers and unemployed 20-somethings with dreams of riches. They're going to hate pickup groups full of ugly ninja looters. In short, monetization is primary a challenge to existing game designs.

In the future, I believe most games will have some sort of monetization. We might as well admit it now, and adjust our designs and gaming expectations accordingly.

107.

"Anyways, instead of wasting time trying to take away supply and demand incentives, let's think about changing what the lore of an MMORPG is so that those demand and supply incentives don't puncture the membrane."


So I think this brings up what could be a key question for virtual worlds going forward. Are they 'just' games? Or, are they just fantasies? Clearly places like Second Life and There are more, but what if we asked the same about places like EQ2, WoW and other more mainstream places.

Take something as simple, or as complex, as intimate relationships. If the usefulness of a new car in real life is becoming less of an efficient tool for meeting new people, and virtual castles on virtual hills are becoming an increasingly more effective tool, than can we really call these places ends to their own means, or are they becoming means to some old fashion real life ends.

Another example is real world social status. If telling someone that you watched the latest episode of American Idol last night strikes a conversation that on average lasts 30 secs in the real world, and telling someone that you raided the Plane of Ubberness last night strikes a conversation that lasts 30 mins, what questions should we be asking about how life in the real wolrd is being morfed by virtual worlds.

At the far side of trends is actions, at the far side of that is motivation, and at the far side of that are real human needs that are getting fulfilled more often in a new way. As such, I wonder if we aren't missing something by just looking at the trends.

Again, if we are seeing that some of the motivations that used to be fulfilled by people working in the real world and buying real stuff in the real world, are now being fulfilled by the acquisition of virtual things in virtual worlds, I think I would expect that either the link between real life paid work and virtual things to grow much stronger, or that people are going to start working less in the real world, and doing what it is that they have to do in virtual worlds to get what they want there.

Personally, I kinda like that people do so much work in the real world, and would be more than happy if they are doing that work for virtual rewards.

-bruce

108.

Dr Castronova got beautifully selectively quoted over at the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4469807.stm

Not a negative voice in the single article :(

109.

Plugh wrote:

If you simply buy the 'cool stuff' and 'unlocked content' (via purchased accounts), your robbing yourself of the very experiences your trying to purchase.

No, I'm not. Stop trying to tell other people that they need to play a game as you want to play it. Not to toot my horn too hard, but there is almost nobody in the world with more experience selling virtual items and dealing with the players who buy them than me. I pioneered selling virtual items as a business model.

What you're saying is nonsense. It doesn't ruin the experience. It changes it. Maybe it changes it in a bad way for you. It doesn't change it in a bad way for me, for our players, or, clearly, for a lot of other players out there. Buying virtual items doesn't "ruin the experience" anymore than buying a lift ticket for skiing as opposed to hiking up the mountain ruins the experience of skiing for most people.

--matt

110.

Welcome to my new shop "MMPORG pawn".Wedding ring=long sword of destruction.Car=1000 hp regen bp.Endorsing this type of practice is bad news.

111.

> FantasyMeister wrote:
> Taking just one example, in my current virtual
> world there is a weapon that you can only get
> by hunting down and killing a tough monster,
> which doesn't always drop that weapon when you
> kill it. It's in a pretty tough location too,
> so you need to be relatively high level to hunt it.

That sounds like just about every virtual world these days.


> FantasyMeister wrote:
> On finally obtaining this weapon, which looks
> unique and enhances my characters existing attributes,
> I used to have the right to strut about in a virtual
> town with this virtual weapon equipped and get virtual
> admiration for my gaming prowess. Value? Priceless.

This is the kind of twisted, warped motivation that needs to be purged from MMOs. If this is a step in that direction, good.

This is the kind of crap that makes it harder for MMOs to become an accepted form of mainstream entertainment.

> FantasyMeister wrote:
> For me, and a whole bunch of regular gamers
> out there, our whole experience is about to
> be devalued.

Good. That is not where the value of any game should derive.

Furthermore, you and "regular" (aka: insanely hardcore people who attach value to having uber items) will continue to play these games just as much and just as assiduously.

112.

> Plugh wrote:
> Your comment above proves my point, "I just want
> to explore the world, see cool stuff, whack a
> few monsters here and there when I feel like it,
> etc." That is in essence, 'the point' to playing
> systems as these.
>
> If you simply buy the 'cool stuff' and 'unlocked
> content' (via purchased accounts), your robbing
> yourself of the very experiences your trying to purchase.
>
> Cheating the system, and yourself.

First of all, you should avoid telling people how to enjoy something or what to enjoy.

Second, note that he did not say killing 50,000 monsters so he is strong enough to move on to the next area is something he considers fun.

Maybe you haven't played most MMOs lately, but they do not simply require accomplishing goals to move on to the next goal. They require that you accomplish the same goal about 10,000 times in a row before you can move on to the next one. For a lot of people, that isn't fun.

113.

What can I say that hasn't been said...?

First, I don't think anyone is questioning SOE's /right/ to make the move they have. If a company decides to include a real currency market in their game, so be it. So the discussion has to be whether this is a "good" move by SOE, and the definition of "good" is what seems to be the debate.

The decision is undoubtably going to be profitable for SOE. They will reduce their customer service costs (eventually, probably) and will get the extra profit from transactions. Even if players tire of the game faster, the ending profit for SOE is likely to be greater.

The decision is unfavorable to those who hold to the ideas of magic circle and earning progress through in-game efforts. The acheiver types have had their earned rewards labelled with a price tag, and the magic circle of this group has been replaced with a different one that includes yet another real world factor.

The decision is favorable to those who want to cover the content at their own pace. It's not logical to argue with this person that they are just ruining the experience for themselves. It's their experience! The only concern is if this ruins the experience for another group (ex. Thor vs. Biff). In a game where skill is not enough to determine a reasonable gear gap in a PvP confrontation, the players can't really take their losses as personal failures anyway, but rather a measure of how well equipped the two were.

There have been a couple of arguments that I've seen used that I'd like to address. First, the concept of the time-poor versus the money-poor is a bit flawed. There are also those who are rich or poor in both things at once. Adding an "equalizer" for the time-poor doesn't work logically anyway, since the two are not equal opposites. The two factors vary for everyone, and who's to say that all time-poor or money-poor people have the same stance on the issue? "I can't play very often, but dang it I earned it!" or "I don't have a lot of cash to spare, but this item will make my current investment more enjoyable" are also possible warcries in this melee.

Also, the idea that some people are "time-poor" is false. If anyone here gets more than 24 hours in their days, please help me make the proper social connections in that respect (h00k m3 up d00d). If you choose to be a dentist, you have chosen where your time goes. This does not give you some kind of "deprived" status that needs to be ameliorated. This is just an argument from someone who wants to have their cake (time) and eat it too (upper level content).

Lastly, there is the idea that "I deserve access to all of the content at my leisure." This is essentially the rejection of time as a reasonable demanded input between the parts of content. I would still assert that what is reasonable is at the discretion of the company providing the game service.

As for results of this action? I seriously doubt that it will lead to positive development. The genre is more likely to increase ways of making money off of this still-young concept. Real money markets are a result of game (flaws?) mechanics, but if the markets are profitable they will become the cause of game mechchanics. It's the nature of business to do so. Expect to see more emphasis on the buyable, at least in the games that allow real money markets.

Sorry for the length.

114.

Michael Hartman wrote:
>>
> FantasyMeister wrote:
> On finally obtaining this weapon, which looks
> unique and enhances my characters existing attributes,
> I used to have the right to strut about in a virtual
> town with this virtual weapon equipped and get virtual
> admiration for my gaming prowess. Value? Priceless.

This is the kind of twisted, warped motivation that needs to be purged from MMOs. If this is a step in that direction, good.

This is the kind of crap that makes it harder for MMOs to become an accepted form of mainstream entertainment.
>>

And then:

>>First of all, you should avoid telling people how to enjoy something or what to enjoy.>>

That works both ways, Michael. Anyone telling anyone else what is/isn't proper play is wrong. If I thought mousing over a red dot and clicking three times was fun, so be it. Let me be.

Trying to measure whether this news is "good" or not by players' personal preferences is pointless. Some will be for and some will be against, and both will think themselves in the majority (and right).

115.

"Anyways, instead of wasting time trying to take away supply and demand incentives, let's think about changing what the lore of an MMORPG is so that those demand and supply incentives don't puncture the membrane." - Edward Castronova

I think this would be possible, and I don't think the lore of what an MMORPG is has to change to facilitate it.

Whereas most (commercial) MMORPGs are item and character-development driven, imagine a game where everyone starts with a customisable (in appearance and job type) character, with the same equivalent skill sets and equipment. (Healer has cure spells and a club, Warrior has evasion techniques and sword, Bard has tra-la-la's and a jokebook etc).

The challenge of the game would be to use those existing skill sets and equipment to explore a world where challenges await, and the reward for completing those challeges would be an unfolding storyline.

The game could be soloable, made slightly easier if you grouped up with others, but the game could adapt to this. (If the program detected 30 players advancing toward the Killer Rabbit it could add a few more Killer Rabbits to up the challenge a little).

The storyline could branch so that different players could experience different aspects depending on their chosen job, and on reaching the 'Fin.' they could chose to reroll to a different job and try to experience the storyline again from a different perspective and using a different set of skills, (whilst retaining some of their initial appearance and identity so existing friends can recognise them) or simply go back and 're-read' the bits they want to see again.

New content could be in the form of extra job types being selectable later on, new branches of the storyline added complete with new areas for the story to unfold in, even a whole new story which anyone, even new players, could attempt to unravel.

The reward for players would not just be a great story unfolding, but the knowledge that they'd mastered the skills given to them to the best of their abilities, made a few friends along the way, maybe even got a good deal next time they want to get their teeth capped at Thor's.

There would be no items to trade, no incentive to buy characters (because all characters are the same and you can't buy their memories), no reason to rush to the endgame because it would be just like skipping a whole book and reading the last page rather than savouring each chapter.

There you go, membrane intact methinks. Until you hook up with a warrior called Britney. From a gamer's point of view even an "insanely hardcore person who attaches value to having uber items" like myself (cheers Michael) would be interested in this type of game, simply because it offers the fabled 'level playing field'.

I think Cyan Worlds (Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, published by UbiSoft) were looking at doing something along these lines a couple of years ago but things seem to have gone quiet after they published the single player only version.

116.

I've been offline for three days, so have only now been able to add to my earlier comments.

From a gamer's point of view, there isn't anything too wrong with allowing the buying and selling of virtual goods for real money on designated servers IF the practice is stomped on for undesignated servers. I suspect that a good many of the people who mewl about being "time poor" or saying "I just want to run with my guildies" are merely making excuses, and actually they just want to give the impression that they are better players than they really are. It will be interesting to hear what new rationalisations they concoct to explain how come they want to buy and sell characters on servers that are not supported by Sonybay.

From a developer's point of view (well, an adviser to developers), this scares the willies out of me. Sony have chosen to accept that what's going on here is a sale of a virtual item. Had they couched it in terms of sale of a service ("I will pay you $x to transfer this object you don't own from the inventory of this character you don't own into the inventory of this character that I don't own") then it wouldn't have been so bad, but they didn't do that. What they did was recognise that players have some title to the virtual objects. They've opened a crack in the door here that a smart lawyer could get a foot through and cause all manner of mayhem as a result. I'm hugely disappointed.

Oh, and as an aside to all those people in this thread who have given that tiresome "it's unfair because some players have free time and others don't" argument, why don't you EVER argue for having virtual goods given to you for free, like out of a Star Trek replicator? If it's unfair that you can't play 80 hours a week and so are always behind those who can, why is it you WANT to buy kit and characters rather than just be GIVEN them? It's EASY for a developer to create new objects at the flick of a digital switch: why is it you insist on paying for what could be given to you for nothing? And if you don't want such a facility, would you have any objections if other people had it?

Richard

117.

Richard wrote:

I suspect that a good many of the people who mewl about being "time poor" or saying "I just want to run with my guildies" are merely making excuses, and actually they just want to give the impression that they are better players than they really are.

See, I think you miss the point of why people buy digital objects if that's what you think. Take our games, for instance. Nobody is fooled into thinking you're a better player just because you're loaded down with expensive artifacts. Nobody would even try to convince someone else of that as it's patently ridiculous and would just get you mocked. Granted, our games don't focus on the level grind like EQ or WoW or whatnot but I think the same thing applies to those games too.

For instance, when playing WoW I would have happily played Blizzard some money to alleviate the grind, which killed my interest in 15 hours of playing. And it sure wouldn't have been to convince people I'm a better player than I am. I don't care if other people in WoW think I'm the greatest or stupidest player ever. I tend to find NPCs more interesting to roleplay with than other players (at least NPCs aren't going to bring up Eminem or talk about UI enhancements) and did my best in WoW to generally just avoid talking to other players. I just wanted to be able to go to other parts of the world without getting my patookus kicked around, but there was no way I was dealing with the grind to do it. Am I typical? Beats me. I suppose insofar as I run a games company and read sites like terranova says not, but still. I don't like the implications of what you're proposing.

I think I could easily turn that argument around too and say that generally the people who are against monetizing digital items are against it because they've convinced themselves that hitting 'kill monster' over and over is an achievement beyond just punching the clock and monetizing it shows that hey, being level 60 (or whatever) doesn't mean jack in terms of your worth as a human being.

You know, this whole argument is extremely reminiscent of a huge argument going on in Achaea right now (thousands of forum posts on it, etc). We announced that we're going to remove player guild control over classes. (players currently have a LOT of control over whether other players can gain and then keep a class or not. They're not guilds like an EQ guild. A guild is composed entirely of people from the same class. Some classes only have one guild, and the only way to get that class is to gain acceptance to that guild.) We finally decided to make this change after getting fed up with guilds denying class to people who didn't want to do things like (these are real guild requirements, not made up):
- Write essays explaining the nature of chaos.
- Pass a 4 hour interview to ensure that you are truly a friend of the forest and not just a poseur who wants to rape it of its bounty.

The major argument that people against the removal of player control over class seems to be, "You're cheapening our achievement in getting class by not making future newbies jump through the same hoops." That's basically what people who are against Sony's move are arguing.

And I think it's a total crock. That's the same kind of BS argument that, say, fraternities use for hazing or that some skiers used to use against ski lifts. (What? I had to EARN my runs by hiking up. Now you just have to sit on a chair? That's lame!) Of course it's completely accepted by all by a handful of people now, just like monetizing digital objects will eventually be accepted by all but a handful. Why? Because it makes sense. These are entertainment products. They're not about proving that you're a quality person (although I get the impression that some people actually base their self-worth on hitting 'kill monster' enough times) or about 'earning' the right to a class or a particular object. They're about having fun, and if someone else having something that you have makes it less fun for you, well, I feel bad for that kind of person as they seem driven by a pretty pathetic desire for a thoroughly petty and laughable elitism. (I'm not suggesting that's you, Richard. I doubt you would tolerate the DIKU/EQ/WoW grind for much longer than I would.)


Sony have chosen to accept that what's going on here is a sale of a virtual item

It's my understanding that they're accepting the sale of the right to use a particular data structure in a particular way, not ownership over the data structure itself.


why is it you WANT to buy kit and characters rather than just be GIVEN them?

!! That'd be great! I'd happily accept a bunch of free stuff from Blizzard if it'd let me go explore their pretty world without getting chomped by dinosaurs or whatever is out there waiting to chomp me. I'm just assuming Blizzard isn't going to see much profit potential in doing that.

Also, I don't see what fair has to do with any of it. Fair is a straw man in this argument.

--matt

118.

To all those people in this thread who have given that tiresome "it's unfair because some players have free time and others don't" argument

I wasn't arguing for fairness, rather pointing out that even without RMT there is very little fairness.

I'd like to get to a point where anyone can play any way they like, rather than only one way of playing being considered fair.

Why don't you EVER argue for having virtual goods given to you for free, like out of a Star Trek replicator

One potential problem I can see with this is that giving useful items away for free would allow players to consume content more quickly, which sounds like a bad idea when you're charging a flat rate subscription.

If developers charged money for replicated items they would be able to make up for any potential loss and players would be able to play at whatever pace they liked.

119.

Richard wrote:

I suspect that a good many of the people who mewl about being "time poor" or saying "I just want to run with my guildies" are merely making excuses, and actually they just want to give the impression that they are better players than they really are.

Mewled? Making excuses? Wow.

Richard, those who make such a rationalization (as you put it) are those with lives: you know, fulfilling families, careers, mortgages, school, hobbies, friends, sunshine, gardens, that sort of thing. People for whom a hobby that requires one to four hours several evenings each week is simply a non-starter.

In other words, the majority of adults. A large market. Not the traditional core gamer market, it's true. But that market is pretty crowded already, and the MMOs that serve it are beginning to show their tired sameness.

So, bite back your disdain, okay? This may not be your crowd, but casting them as mewling rationalizers pouting because they can't play as well as someone else does you a disservice.

Two other things: First, you have Sony's take on ownership wrong. This has zero to do with ownership of virtual goods (that old canard that no one who's hip-deep in this actually worries much about). Read what Sony has on their site.

Second, I haven't heard anyone on the "less time" side of this on-going discussion talk about fairness. All the "that's not fair!" arguments have come from the "I earned this sword" crowd. The argument from the POV of less-time-more-money crowd is decidedly a commercial and capitalist one.

From my POV as a developer, this is about servicing a market with a commercial entertainment product and service. Period. It's not about fairness or cheating or vague notions of potential ownership, or anything else worth wringing one's hands over. If the market for a certain type of entertainment exists, it will attract more people and flourish, even if some don't find it to their taste. Arguing against that is just spitting into the wind.

120.

Matt Mihaly>Take our games, for instance. Nobody is fooled into thinking you're a better player just because you're loaded down with expensive artifacts.

Your games are designed for this integration between real life money and virtual artefacts. As I said earlier, Achaea isn't about the kind of things that money can buy in it - it's about other things. EQ2 is about killing things to go up levels to get better stuff so you can kill bigger things, and if players can buy levels and stuff then they're buying success.

>Granted, our games don't focus on the level grind like EQ or WoW or whatnot but I think the same thing applies to those games too.

That's precisely why the same thing doesn't apply.

>For instance, when playing WoW I would have happily played Blizzard some money to alleviate the grind, which killed my interest in 15 hours of playing.

And how long would your interest have lasted if WoW was grindless? If there were only one level and everyone started at it? Then you'd have access to the high-end content immediately. Would you have played for more than 15 hours?

Actually, I think a one-level (or few-levels) game could work reasonably well, if players need skill (or at least knowledge) to get to the exciting places. It could even have PD in it; after all, if you can come right back at the top level having been killed dead dead, it's hardly the gut-wrenching loss of 3 months of play.

>I think I could easily turn that argument around too and say that generally the people who are against monetizing digital items are against it because they've convinced themselves that hitting 'kill monster' over and over is an achievement

For them, it is an achievement. That's why they are playing the game. That's also why they don't like it when their belief is undermined.

Any game, looked at objectively, can easily be reduced to basic terms that make it look ridiculous. "Just a bunch of guys hitting a ball around with a wooden stick" is a multi-million dollar industry (and one that would collapse if players could legitimately accept payment for deliberately missing the ball with their stick).

>"You're cheapening our achievement in getting class by not making future newbies jump through the same hoops." That's basically what people who are against Sony's move are arguing.

That's at the extreme end of the argument. In practice, it doesn't seem to matter too much: people who like PvP may look down on people on other servers who get to level 60 without knowing anything, and they may feel that this cheapens their own achievements, but the cross-server boundary is strong enough for them to sustain their sense of purity. If people could import characters from a non-PvP server to a PvP server, that would bug them. Likewise, if people can import stuff from SOEbay servers to non-SOEbay servers, that would annoy the non-SOEbay players.

>It's my understanding that they're accepting the sale of the right to use a particular data structure in a particular way, not ownership over the data structure itself.

That's still too much. There's a "right" in there that can be opened up for more, less innocent "rights" to pour through.

Richard

121.

Jim Purbrick>One potential problem I can see with this is that giving useful items away for free would allow players to consume content more quickly, which sounds like a bad idea when you're charging a flat rate subscription.

So giving stuff away for free is a bad idea, but letting players give each other stuff (whether for free or for money) isn't a bad idea? How come? Both of them allow players to consume content more quickly (or skip it entirely) and in both cases it's a bad idea when you're charging a flat subscription. So why would a company want it to happen in either case? And, if it accepts it in one case, why not in the other?

Richard

122.

Mike Sellers>People for whom a hobby that requires one to four hours several evenings each week is simply a non-starter.

So why do they start?

>So, bite back your disdain, okay? This may not be your crowd, but casting them as mewling rationalizers pouting because they can't play as well as someone else does you a disservice.

It's not that they can't play, it's that they choose not to play in such a way that it spoils things for those who choose to play.

I want to drive a truck. Trucks are big and heavy and they thunder down the road. I wouldn't mind having a go at driving one. However, I don't have the time available to learn how to drive a truck. No problem! I just find someone who has learned how to buy a truck and I purchase their truck-driving licence from them. Now I can drive a truck! I'll set the speed limiter to 40 miles per hour and go on single-lane highways so I'm not a danger to anybody. All that will happen is that I'll build up a line of infuriated drivers 3 miles long behind me as they queue up to overtake.

What's that? I don't get to buy a truck driver's licence? But that's the high-end content I want! Why do I have to sit through the grind to get it? I'm willing to pay for the licence, why can't I have it? Whine whine mewl mewl.

>From my POV as a developer, this is about servicing a market with a commercial entertainment product and service. Period.

That's fine. Just don't call the end result a game and I'll stop moaning about it.

Richard

123.

Richard Bartle > Sony have chosen to accept that what's going on here is a sale of a virtual item.

Matt Mihaly > It's my understanding that they're accepting the sale of the right to use a particular data structure in a particular way, not ownership over the data structure itself.

This has been noted above, but as this is getting sooo long: Yep, SOE are still asserting ownership the make this very clear in the FAQ. All they are doing is, on the basis of IP rights, modifying the contract so that the limited licence to use that they grant players can now be traded.

I’m sure they have taken a lot of legal advise on whether enabling the trade in licences will bring any restriction on the underlying property i.e. if trading becomes very common practice will SOE be prevented from deleting things as and when they want etc – as at some point a one would think a public policy concern would kick in but this would probably be only when a sufficiently high number of people have sufficient wealth invested in virtual artefacts that there would be a tangible impact on the economy of a nation state should those object disappear. It’s been argued elsewhere that we might look to the kinds of status given to National Parks as a way forward.

But how might it go,,,, I’ve just been scanning the UK’s “The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002” which makes very interesting reading. Now IANAL and I read it quick and it’s the Sunday morning after a long WoW session, but here a group of people with leases on flats have the right to buy the property where they get freeholds in their flat and some form of association has a new form of property called commonhold in the rest.

I don’t want to try to draw detailed parallels here but rather the higher level one that this seems to be at least one example where public policy overturns pre-existing real-property rights (actually there are -lots- of examples of restriction on real property, so its far from exceptional in this regard per se) in favour of those that have some form of right to use agreement. But it would be interesting to tease through the kind of goods and harms that motivated this. Certainly if we look at Julian’s WTF post one could conceive that the market value of the holdings of a group of people could be higher than that in a set of flats (though the individual holding of each member would generally be a lot lower). Hmmm

124.

There's an extended interview with Scott Hartsman, senior producer of EQ2, over on Allakhazam. Scott has been involved in virtual world development practically since year zero (he started with Sceptre of Goth), and I have huge respect for him. His reasoned comments about Station Exchange have allayed many of my worse fears.

There are gamers on SOE's staff, and they do have a voice.

Richard

125.

Richard wrote:

I want to drive a truck. Trucks are big and heavy and they thunder down the road. I wouldn't mind having a go at driving one. However, I don't have the time available to learn how to drive a truck. No problem! I just find someone who has learned how to buy a truck and I purchase their truck-driving licence from them. Now I can drive a truck! I'll set the speed limiter to 40 miles per hour and go on single-lane highways so I'm not a danger to anybody. All that will happen is that I'll build up a line of infuriated drivers 3 miles long behind me as they queue up to overtake.

What's that? I don't get to buy a truck driver's licence? But that's the high-end content I want! Why do I have to sit through the grind to get it? I'm willing to pay for the licence, why can't I have it? Whine whine mewl mewl.

You have got to be kidding me. Truck driver's licenses are required because trucks are speeding blocks of metal weighing multiple tons. They have the potential to easily kill people. MMOs are ways for people in wealthy cultures to kill their free time. However seriously they may take it, the reprecussions are staggeringly, laughably minimal compared to driving a truck. Your analogy is beyond ridiculous.

--matt

126.

Richard Bartle wrote:

There are gamers on SOE's staff, and they do have a voice.

Your condescension is childish, insulting, and very beneath you. It IS possible, you know, to disagree with your personal preferences and still be a gamer. Imagine that.

--matt

127.

Richard> So giving stuff away for free is a bad idea, but letting players give each other stuff (whether for free or for money) isn't a bad idea? How come?

It's also a bad idea. As I said said a couple of weeks ago using earned advancement, adding player to player trade, then banning people from buying advancement is very weird.

I wonder whether the only reason it's the status quo is that it's the approach used in D&D where it works because the GM has far more control.

What I also suggested a couple of weeks ago was that "if earning advancement is really that important, don't allow player to player trade. If it's not, allow people to choose how fast they progress through the game by selling them help directly."

128.

Matt Mihaly>You have got to be kidding me. Truck driver's licenses are required because trucks are speeding blocks of metal weighing multiple tons.

OK, well let's say world athletic records then, they're not dangerous. I want to have a world athletic record, I can't spare the time to train, other people can spare the time to train, they win the records, why can't I buy the record from them?

Richard

129.

Matt Mihaly>Your condescension is childish, insulting, and very beneath you.

This isn't condescension, this is a deep sense of impending loss.

>It IS possible, you know, to disagree with your personal preferences and still be a gamer.

Of course it is. Did I say somewhere that it wasn't?

What concerns me with this whole real-money-for-games-not-designed-for-real-money thing is that we'll get poorer games as a result. Gamers can still play poorer games, but I want them to play better games. You can criticise me for wanting them to play better games if you like, and you can criticise me for saying that games not designed for real money are almost always worse when they have real money injected into them. You can't criticise me for being condescending to gamers, though, because I'm not.

Richard

130.

Jim Purbrick>It's also a bad idea.

In that case, we're back to the original question: why is it that people who want faster advancement never ask to be given the kit they need, but instead ask to be allowed to buy it? Is it simply that they figure they have a better chance of getting the developer to agree in the second instance?

Richard

131.

Richard> In that case, we're back to the original question.

In which case I'll go back to my original answer: they can ask as much as they like, but developers using a flat rate subscription model won't want to lose out by allowing faster progress.

Really, I don't know how much clearer I can make this, but here goes. I think the 2 sensible options are:

Either:

1) Some people want to progress faster than others.
2) Developers need to make money from all of them.
3) Developers charge for items which allow faster progress so they end up with same money once each person has consumed all the content at their chosen speed.

Or:

1) Designers decide progress must be earned with time.
2) Developers get rid of player to player trade.
3) (Everyone who wants to play faster, goes elsewhere)

What we have now is:

1) Designers decide progress must be earned with time.
2) Players want to progress at a faster pace.
3) Players use RMT to speed their progress.
4) Developers lose out as content is consumed faster.

132.

(I am posting this one anonymously because there have been some jerks cyber stalking us lately. I am a frequent poster here, however.)

> Richard Bartle wrote:
>
> I suspect that a good many of the people
> who mewl about being "time poor" or saying
> "I just want to run with my guildies" are
> merely making excuses, and actually they
> just want to give the impression that they
> are better players than they really are.

I think this is a very inaccurate statement. I'll explain in the best way I can and hope it doesn't sound like someone claiming to be the most Uber Game Ever.

I have been playing games in a pretty hard core manner for over 20 years. I have been making games for 10 years. My wife and I are both hard core gamers.

I will use 2 MMOs we have played for the sake of examples:

When we played DAoC, I was the 3rd lvl 50 character on the server, and for the first 6 months was the highest ranked character of my class in RvR. This was done while programming for and running our company.

In World of Warcraft, I have two level 60 characters and two other lvl 30+ characters. My wife has 1 level 60 and a handful of level 30+. We run a successful guild in the game. We do this while we both work for our company. We also have a 3 year old daughter whom we spend a great deal of time with- so much so that we may even home school depending on how a current zoning issue plays out in our area.

The point of what I am saying? When my wife and I say we hate the way modern MMOs waste your time and would love to pay to bypass come of the crap, we are not making an excuse. We have found a way to achieve the goals we want to achieve in the games we play, but we lament the miserable parts that are frankly, impediments to fuller enjoyment.


> What's that? I don't get to buy a truck driver's
> licence? But that's the high-end content I want!
> Why do I have to sit through the grind to get it?
> I'm willing to pay for the licence, why can't I
> have it? Whine whine mewl mewl.

Richard, you've just described one of the big benefits of RPGs: you get to do things you CANNOT do in Real Life. :)

133.

Jim Purbrick>In which case I'll go back to my original answer: they can ask as much as they like, but developers using a flat rate subscription model won't want to lose out by allowing faster progress.

But the same logic applies for both "I want to buy" and "I want to be given". In neither case does the developer want to lose out by allowing faster progress. That being the case, why do people only ever ask to be able to buy when they could ask to be given? If these players believe that developers are open to persuasion, why don't they want the option that costs them no money?

Richard

134.

Anon>When my wife and I say we hate the way modern MMOs waste your time and would love to pay to bypass come of the crap, we are not making an excuse.

You only need to bypass the crap because everyone else has bypassed the crap. There's no reason you need to be L60 to run a guild except that you want to recruit members who are also L60 and you couldn't do that if you were L20. The content is pretty much the same whatever level you're at: the labels on the monsters and the weapons and the armour change; the spell effects are prettier; the numbers scale up, but proportionally. If you believe that what you're bypassing is crap, then you're bypassing it to get bigger, better crap.

>you've just described one of the big benefits of RPGs: you get to do things you CANNOT do in Real Life. :)

I can do that while they remain games. When they become real life, I can't.

Richard

135.

A key desire to “buy” for the segment of players involved with high-level guilds is flexibility.

Example (not my personal perspective, but trying to role-play for the sake of example): if I grind my way to lvl60 over 250 hours and am happy at playing at this level of “bigger, better crap” content and want to play another class to round out the group or to play for just the session (like the ability to choose between driving an SUV, Mini, truck, or a F1 racer–which is ALWAYS way cooler than a Mini). For all of MMO’s brokenness, I really don’t want to spend another 180 hours power-leveling an alt so that I can play an alt at the high-end of the content I am used to. As a customer accustomed to “Customer is always right” and having my whims catered to (the 5-star treatment), I want the same for MMO gaming!

Now, theoretically developers CAN give without cost this ability to create a high-level alt, but why financially. Profit motive out-ranked design ideology. Also, on a design level for the current crop of MMO-grind games this will turn painful, but still playable MMO brokenness into full blow unplayable. Why? The money spent on level 1-59 content just became worthless. Everyone is lvl60 and probably playing the optimal class, making even 80% of the lvl60 content worthless. No developer is going to rationally devalue their products. Guildwars took this perspective to heart and is designed for players like Anon and my RP-danker.

So, to main the current status-quo of level-balance and class-balance but still test this new business model, which has wider acceptance in Europe, Asia, and among the virtual sports card collecting hobbyist , MTG online gamers, this is SOE’s baby-step.

Personally, I think Magic The Gathering Online have the right model. However, the market demand is small. The market demand for someone to sell me an “edge” but not the “win” is very, very large, especially in a time-consuming repetitive-farming MMO-grind games.

Sorry for the grammar errors and run-ons.

Frank

136.

"RMT" is the same as not only buying your SAT scores, but having someone else sit in the seat for them.

137.

>Thor thus has the +5 Sword of Noggin-nocking, while
>Biff has the +1 Sword of Thrift.
>Thor wins. Biff quits,
>and so do others like him. Thor winds up fighting

Personally, I'd never mourn the loss of a PvP enthusiast from *any* game. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...PvP is a euphemism for (partly) socially sanctioned adolescent griefing. I am both aware and glad that there are specific MMORPGs in existence to cater to the (whether mentally or chronologically) sociopathic 14 year old crowd...if nothing else, it hopefully can mean that they're kept out of non-PvP oriented games. But I do not advocate them, and in fact will not be shy in admitting that as a group, I would (at least from a purely emotional perspective) much prefer it if they did not exist.

As far as the actual topic is concerned however, I applaud Sony for doing this. It is something which a large number of players I think have wanted for a long time...and personally I believe that because of that, it establishes a precedent which can only help, rather than harm, MMORPGs for the most part. Given at least my own customary style of MMORPG play, (pacifist magic-using ESA/in-game trader to partially quote Richard Bartle's terminology) the Ebay phenomenon does not generally harm my usual game experience in the least...to the contrary, it greatly enriches and enhances it. I am the proverbial "carebear" to quote the juvenile PvP perjorative, and for myself and others like me, trading gives us nothing to lose, and much to gain.

I think, now that I look at it, that the PvP/Killer crowd are actually those who have the most to lose from out-of-game trading...because apart from anything else, it means that those of us who used to be preyed upon by them (and I myself have been at times) could now concievably have a much greater possibility of defending themselves than in times past.

My heart bleeds, guys. ;)

138.

I find it interesting that most of the focus of these comments is on how "they" ruin "my" game.

The first argument seems to be that "they" ruin "my" game by buying objects they don't deserve and daring to sample the sweet nectar of achievement that only I am entitled to.

The second argument seems to be that "they" ruin "my" game by tying progress to absurd investments of time that only losers (meaning, people who play any amount more than I play) can have access to.

I personally find buying online gold about as logical as cheating at solitare. That said, I could care less if someone cheats at solitare.

Oh, I know - this is 'different.' MMORGS are "social."

Meh.

To the people who think they are gathering admiration for their uber swords of leetness, I suspect that is happening less than they think.

To the people who think they are getting "better" content by getting to kill "Doomspiders" at level 60 versus "Brown Spiders" at level 20, I suspect the gap in excitement is somewhat less than they think as well.

And for both groups (and ones beyond that), I find I am perfectly able to find a band of like-minded souls to play with, even if there are plenty of solitare cheaters and leet gamers doing their own thing in other sectors around me.

About the criticism that has even a shred of validity seems to be the possibilty of Mudflation. The rest of this thread seems preoocupied with validating the worth of the "time spender" versus the "money spender." How dull. You can't both play on the same shard? E-peen truly that small?

139.

Richard Bartle wrote:

OK, well let's say world athletic records then, they're not dangerous. I want to have a world athletic record, I can't spare the time to train, other people can spare the time to train, they win the records, why can't I buy the record from them?

Well, I view the problem here largely as the fact that we haven't yet invented time travel. Buying a world record would require changing history so that you ran a race the fastest, or whatever. It's the equivalent of paying to change who your biological parents are. It can't be done.

So in short, you can't buy world records because the entire concept is impossible. You could buy a listing in a world record book if someone wanted to sell it to you, but that wouldn't mean you hold the actual world record.

--matt

140.

Richard wrote:

What concerns me with this whole real-money-for-games-not-designed-for-real-money thing is that we'll get poorer games as a result.

Fair enough. You think they're poorer games. I think they're better games. Who is right? I don't actually care. It'll play itself out in the market as consumers vote with their wallets.


I can do that while they remain games. When they become real life, I can't.

Meaning what exactly? I'm still waiting to hear how you're prevented from doing ANYTHING you could before just because other people can buy things. I mean seriously, name a single thing this prevents you from doing. What it does do is create more options and freedom for players.

--matt


141.

What it does do is create more options and freedom for players.
--matt

***

Funny, cause I’m having exactly the opposite reaction here. I was thinking at one point that, darn, I’m going to have to go play the Sony stuff, just to kinda to see what it’s like and everything, but also because, after all, it might be fun. But now, after hearing all this stuff, I’m thinking, pfft, no I don’t.

Cause I’m thinking play is going to be lots more predictable and much less fun than before.

An instinctive, gut-determined reaction. But then why do I think that exactly?

Cause I’m thinking that part of the fun before was seeing this mix of uberly twinked and maxed out characters vs. the poor little idiots who actually play the game. And part of the fun was this imbalance and conflict and opposition that forced a weird kind of conceptual contextualization – like those that so intrigue and engage the Terra Nova crowd.

But now I’m thinking, pfft, all those cool conceptualizations are not gonna be there anymore, cause the uber twinks and the poor little players are no longer in opposition. There are fewer oppositions, fewer conflicts, fewer choices, fewer excitements.

But then, I’m thinking some more, and, if indeed that is true, then maybe players just won’t do it. Maybe they will still play with buying and selling on the closed servers and, equally fun, still play with non-buying and non-selling on the more economically open Sonybay servers. That’s, after all, where the fun is, not in the you-go-your-way-and-I’ll-go-mine, boring, compromised, denuded, win-win situations.

What Sony is trying to do is ensure people’s fun by erecting these tight little boundaries around what is appropriate and inappropriate fun. But fun comes precisely from breaking down those boundaries and shaking all about.

So, having had these thoughts, here’s my prediction:

Sony can do and say whatever they want. Write it in the EULA. Post it in on the boards. Whatever. Cause whatever they say and do is not going to stop how players play. And how players play is exactly how players always and currently play. And, based on always and currently, the blacker the market the better.

142.

I am somewhat divided on the major issue in this thread (i.e. is sanctioned RMT a good thing?), but I did want to respond to something that Richard said:

You only need to bypass the crap because everyone else has bypassed the crap. ... The content is pretty much the same whatever level you're at: the labels on the monsters and the weapons and the armour change; the spell effects are prettier; the numbers scale up, but proportionally. If you believe that what you're bypassing is crap, then you're bypassing it to get bigger, better crap.

At least for the two games I've played a lot (EQ1 and WoW), this is not quite true. The content as you get higher levels is different from the lower level content in ways beyond just scaling and being prettier. How your character class works evolves as you level up and gain new abilities, for example. Also in both games, as you level up you tend to gain access to more kinds of content, and what you are doing shifts more towards grouping in dungeons.

Those sorts of changes, I think, are necessary in game design: at first the player has fewer options, and as she learns how to play the game, she gains more abilities and options so that she has a sense of progression and continued incentive to play the game to discover new stuff. It's not just more of the same with bigger numbers. This factor alone, though, would probably not cause people to want to jump to the endgame in MMOs; single player games thrive, for example, without people feeling the need to just jump to the end.

The difference with MMOs like EQ and WoW is that the game doesn't end. At some point, you reach max level, and you're still playing (unlike single player games, where typically game over happens either before or shortly after hitting "max level"). At this point the emphasis shifts towards the so-called endgame: raiding, acquiring ever-better gear, and so on. The endgame is drastically different from gameplay while levelling up, so I disagree that it's just rushing through to simply get to more of the same. As a player I agree with you that rushing through is silly, because there's definitely fun, interesting gameplay to be had in that portion of the game, but it's *different* gameplay from the endgame that (at least some) people are buying into, so we should account for this legitimate urge to reach the endgame faster.

MMOs have one additional pressure which I'm not sure we've consciously accounted for in this thread so far: social pressure. A non-PW game waits for you, so you never need to "catch up"; you can put the game down and come back at any time and the game hasn't changed. This isn't true for MMOs. Your friends progress, the other players on your server progress, even the game itself progresses with new patches, content releases and so on. EQ and WoW design encourages a certain amount of catch-up and keeping up with the Joneses if you want to stay cohesive with your group of friends. In such an environment, players must have a certain amount of twinking, powerlevelling, or even RMT mechanisms of keeping up since it's not feasible to force people to stay in lockstep.

Do I like RMT as a player or game developer? Not particularly, since it feels like it damages the integrity of the game. But I do see the need for twinking and such in games like EQ and WoW, and as folks have already pointed out, RMT is simply another mechanism for acheiving the same unearned power. Pragmatically, it feels like RMT is a necessary product of the game design, so if we want to eliminate RMT altogether, we have to redesign our games.

143.

> There's no reason you need to be L60 to
> run a guild except that you want to recruit
> members who are also L60 and you couldn't do
> that if you were L20. The content is pretty
> much the same whatever level you're at: the
> labels on the monsters and the weapons and the
> armour change; the spell effects are prettier;
> the numbers scale up, but proportionally. If you
> believe that what you're bypassing is crap, then
> you're bypassing it to get bigger, better crap.

Richard, with all due respect, I do not think you have played modern MMOs that much if you say this.

In DAoC, the "real game" begins at level 50 when you can RvR. RvR is what makes that game. The PvE aspect of DAoC is so-so at best.

Furthermore, many (most?) games clearly put a lot more effort into the high end content. It tends to be more interesting, deeper, and involve a lot more strategy.

As someone else mentioned, within any group of friends or guild there are often times when it becomes clear that a different complement of classes are needed due to how the high end content is designed. Wheeeeee, another few hundred+ hours to level up a few different classes.

Then there is the fact that too many MMO developers LOVE the nerf bat see-saw syndrome. They over buff, then over nerf, back and forth, making some classes painful to play for months, and others overpowered for months. If you get nerfed into oblivion, you often have to start a new character. In fact, forums of MMOs will be filled with suggestions from their own players to "roll a new class" whenever problems in a class are identified.

I don't have a problem with it taking time to advance a character. The problem I have is when that time is clearly stretched for no other reason than just because a developer can.

For the sake of enjoying a lot of the more complex content, we often DO endure the drudgery of excesssive repetitiveness. The problem is that a lot of the low and mid level content is stretched far beyond it deserves to be.

To summarize, some of the significant problems in modern MMOs that make a lot of normal people (not mewling whiners as Mr. Bartle would posit) wish they could bypass some of the repetitive garbage are:

1) Developers overstretch content by making it excessively repetitive. Something that is fun for 1 hour takes 10, something that is fun for 5 hours takes 100.

2) Developers put a lot more effort, work, and monetary investment into the quality of high end content (RvR, high level instanced dungeons and epic encounters, etc). The stuff at the high end is just a lot more fun than the 1000x stretched crap getting there.

3) Game design issues and sloppy game balance create the need to level up additional characters of other classes that you would not have originally wanted to, but necessity demanded it. Because of #1, the process of 1->50 or 1->60 is extraordinarily painful the second or third time around.


144.

I wanted to wait a bit before I set foot back on this thread.

From my perspective, it would seem important that SOE retain a stance of disinterestedness when it implements RMT. In other words, its primary benefit should be attracting and retaining players who like the "ski-lift"/monetized-twink approaches (and those who pay to service them), not in benefiting from each transaction per se. I suspect the latter would create too strong a temptation for a Magic: The Gathering scenario, particularly in a PvP-type environment.

Insofar as I think the RMT-enabled servers will end up having a divided population, between those who farm/sell and those who buy/play, I'm thinking of them as "Club Med" servers: your play being someone else's work. The social aspects of that are interesting: some people are comfortable being served by a service class, some are not.

If SOE can retain a disinterested (no profit per transaction) position, which will also have the benefit, perhaps, of freezing out competitor RMT businesses, I think it would work.

145.

Matt Mihaly>Buying a world record would require changing history so that you ran a race the fastest, or whatever.

Many players of virtual worlds see buying a high-level character the same way. Change history so that you played all that time and got it on merit, rather than just buying it.

>Who is right? I don't actually care. It'll play itself out in the market as consumers vote with their wallets.

Not necessarily: we could have a tragedy of the commons here. A small number of athletes who are allowed to take performance-enhancing drugs means that every other athlete who wants to win also has to take drugs. Most of them probably don't want to, but that small group has changed things for everyone. That's why athletics federations ban performance-enhancing drugs.

Likewise, in virtual worlds it may be that most players don't want to do RMT, but if a small number do then everyone else feels they have to or they'll be left behind.

>I'm still waiting to hear how you're prevented from doing ANYTHING you could before just because other people can buy things.

I have a PhD. If anyone could buy a PhD, I wouldn't be prevented from doing anything I could do before just because other people can buy PhDs. All that's happened is that my qualification has completely lost all meaning.

For game-like virtual worlds in which success can be bought, anyone who values in-game success will be seriously pissed off to find that it's lost all meaning.

>I mean seriously, name a single thing this prevents you from doing. What it does do is create more options and freedom for players.

Let's say I had an affair with a neighbour. My wife would be somewhat annoyed, yet what does my having an affair prevent her doing? It's creating more options and freedoms for both of us!

What it prevents her from doing is ever trusting me again. People who do RMT in a virtual world not set up for it prevent other players from ever trusting them - or indeed the game - again. Trust sustains the magic circle; without the magic circle, a game is just another piece of reality.

By the way, you'll note that I keep adding caveats here to do with the way the virtual world is designed. I don't include in my objections virtual worlds in which what can be bought isn't regarded as the success metric for that world (eg. Achaea), or virtual worlds that aren't games at all (eg. SL). I'm only objecting to game-like worlds which allow real world money to be used to buy advancement.

Richard

146.

To Richard Bartle,
I hear your concern. A number of people claimed that RMT in Ultima Online damaged their experiences, and I agree with you that in games not specifically designed for it, real money trading could cause major problems. However, I've been thinking about this and may be able to offer you a ray of optimism.

From what I have seen, one of the main reasons why teenagers are often drawn to experiment with illegal drugs (and the reason why drug dealers can name their price) is precisely because these drugs are illegal in many countries. I remember reading about the introduction of marijuana caffees in Amsterdam and other places. Certainly, some people go there and smoke. However, in places where such facilities exist, consumption of the drug in question almost always seems to decrease radically when such facilities are introduced...to the degree that it would seem that such facilities are a much more effective way of combatting drug abuse than criminalisation. The minority who would consume the substance regardless continue to do so, but the substance loses its appeal to others who might potentially try it, precisely because it loses its taboo or socially unacceptable status.

So while I understand that there are as many (if not more) MMORPG players who dislike trading as those who do, I am confident that with time it will be revealed that decriminalisation is in everyone's best interest, regardless of your particular side of the fence.

Those who want to trade will now have the ability to go to a legitimate source, supervised and monitored by the company that made the game itself. The owner company can regulate its trading facilities in such a way that these could actually allow them much finer grained control of the in-game economy than they may have had previously, in a similar manner to the way in which governmental reserve banks raise and lower interest rates, and so on. The developers could also increase/decrease specific commodities in response to the needs of the economy in a somewhat more controlled and immediate way, as well. Additional employment opportunities could be created as, in addition to the standard live team, the owner company develops a need for brokerage groups like Markee Dragon. As time goes on, such groups stand to gain an enormous amount of prestige. Due to this, player fraud will go down, and trust will go up. Controlled trading of in-game currency in particular (even including a formal exchange rate) could lead to a far more equitable scenario for both buyer *and* seller, rather than the seller simply being able to name their price.

I also however do not propose that RMT become universal, but rather that the "with or without" model remain in place...in the sense that some servers allow it and others don't. In order to be able to give players a sufficient level of choice, I think there needs to be as broad an ecology as possible of different models with regards to the question...From old-school, heirarchical time based progression only at one end of the spectrum (as there will still be people who want that) to unbridled, decentralised laissez-faire RMT on the other, with everything in between. An interesting possibility could also be in some cases to run games which deliberately allow black market RMT while not being designed for it in order to give those who use the black market RMT an advantage, as primarily exists now. The reason why I advocate that is because if these games still exist, the people who want them are more likely to remain in them, which means that other people who want healthier styles of play will be able to engage in them undisturbed by such types.

There are always going to be people who both do want RMT, and those who don't...however, I also believe that cyberspace is of course a domain of infinite size. Given that, I can understand no reason why people with varying perspectives on this issue cannot eventually find their own respective niches to reside in, while allowing the entire spectrum to continue to exist, rather than simply one particular end of it. I feel that this would be far more beneficial to all concerned, because it could quite literally mean that everyone could end up getting what they want.

147.

yph>The content as you get higher levels is different from the lower level content in ways beyond just scaling and being prettier.

So if that kind of content were available at lower levels (appropriately scaled) and the lower-level content (appropriately scaled) was all that was available at the higher levels, you figure most players would hang around at the lower levels where it's more fun?

>at first the player has fewer options, and as she learns how to play the game, she gains more abilities and options so that she has a sense of progression and continued incentive to play the game to discover new stuff.

>The difference with MMOs like EQ and WoW is that the game doesn't end.

I agree with you here, yes. If these games did have a definite ending (for individual characters - I don't mean for the world as a whole) then it would completely change the dynamic in a positive way, and (perhaps perversely) people would play for longer, too.

>At this point the emphasis shifts towards the so-called endgame: raiding, acquiring ever-better gear, and so on.

If the end-game is what people are paying to reach, that would suggest that once they reached it they would stop buying and selling things. Is there therefore no market in "ever-better gear" on IGE?

>Your friends progress, the other players on your server progress, even the game itself progresses with new patches, content releases and so on.

I agree that much more can be done on the design side so that mixed-ability parties are viable. However, I don't think this would make much of a dent in the sales of higher-level characters; all it would do is reduce the number of people who cited catch-up as a reason for why they bought a higher-level character.

>Pragmatically, it feels like RMT is a necessary product of the game design, so if we want to eliminate RMT altogether, we have to redesign our games.

This is like saying that steroid use is a necessary product of body-building, so if we want to eliminate it altogether we have to redesign our body-building contests.

I don't care if a few virtual worlds take the RMT path. I do care if they all have to take the path, whether this is because players, developers or law-makers don't know any different.

Richard

148.

Anon>with all due respect, I do not think you have played modern MMOs that much if you say this.

I don't play them all that much, you're right. As I've said before, they're not fun for me for long enough to get that far. All I can do is talk to people who do play them that much, or read what they say to one another.

>In DAoC, the "real game" begins at level 50 when you can RvR. RvR is what makes that game. The PvE aspect of DAoC is so-so at best.

Yes, I do know this.

So you're saying that when games offer a distinct endgame, people should be allowed to play only that endgame, without ever having played through the, er, startgame? If Mythic were to offer DAOC servers where everyone started at L50, you'd be happy?

>Furthermore, many (most?) games clearly put a lot more effort into the high end content. It tends to be more interesting, deeper, and involve a lot more strategy.

Well, the reason they do this is for the "trickle down effect". The idea is that today's high-end content is tomorrow's mid-level content, so if the growth is at the tip then eventually all players will benefit. Historically, when they did add content in the mid-range, high-level players complained that they were missing out on it.

>I don't have a problem with it taking time to advance a character. The problem I have is when that time is clearly stretched for no other reason than just because a developer can.

I'm with you there, but I don't think many developers are that cynical. There are two reasons why the low- and mid-level content is stretched so far:
1) Because in the established games, new content is added to the high end. This makes previously high-end content turn into the top end of the mid-level.
2) Because in newer games, EQ's levels structure is taken as a model. That has an over-long grind for the reasons given in 1), therefore the copycats have an over-long grind, too. It usually remains over-long even when the designers shorten it to reduce the grind, because they don't realise just how much shorter it could be made.

>(not mewling whiners as Mr. Bartle would posit)
Er, Richard will do...

>Because of #1, the process of 1->50 or 1->60 is extraordinarily painful the second or third time around.

The traditional counter-argument (which I don't buy, but then I don't like classes anyway) is that if you play up to L50 as class X then want to switch to class Y, you're consuming new content the second time round, not the same content twice. This is because different classes experience the virtual world in different ways; if playing as some warrior sub-type felt the same as playing as some sub-type of mage then there wouldn't be any need for classes.

Richard

149.

Petrus wrote:

>>
Personally, I'd never mourn the loss of a PvP enthusiast from *any* game. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...PvP is a euphemism for (partly) socially sanctioned adolescent griefing. I am both aware and glad that there are specific MMORPGs in existence to cater to the (whether mentally or chronologically) sociopathic 14 year old crowd...if nothing else, it hopefully can mean that they're kept out of non-PvP oriented games. But I do not advocate them, and in fact will not be shy in admitting that as a group, I would (at least from a purely emotional perspective) much prefer it if they did not exist.
>>

What about games whose sole purpose is to defeat another person? Are FPS and strategy games only for the "sociopath 14 year old crowd"? I take it you're not a sports fan, either, since the whole point of most sports is to outdo the other team through your team's skilled efforts in direct confrontations.

This comment is just silly, judging an entire group of people like that. Why can't people do PvP in RPG games simply for the thrill of competition? Why is that style of play illegitimate?

>>
it establishes a precedent which can only help, rather than harm, MMORPGs for the most part.
>>

I disagree. As I wrote above, I think it will encourage game companies to include more grinding and such things in order to increase the volume of people who pay to bypass it. On the other hand, people who hate the idea of RMT might create better games as a reaction. I'm basing the idea of a better game here on one that addresses issues like grind, low skill input, etc.

>>
I think, now that I look at it, that the PvP/Killer crowd are actually those who have the most to lose from out-of-game trading...because apart from anything else, it means that those of us who used to be preyed upon by them (and I myself have been at times) could now concievably have a much greater possibility of defending themselves than in times past.

My heart bleeds, guys. ;)
>>

Or it will give them much greater incentive to seek those people out (greater spoils to be gotten, greater challenge and thrills to be had)? And who's to say that a PvP player hasn't bought all of his levels and gear? Who's to say this isn't opening a huge window for those who really are immature but too impatient to get the gear and skills needed to successfuly pkill? Who's to say that this isn't going to increase the percentage of players who hold little value in the play experience of others (since they didn't "earn" it after all)?

I've been thinking about the feeling of "earning" advancement. Do those who use RMT (that seems to be the name that's sticking) not also have a feeling of achievement? If you think not, try talking to someone who paid for an item or character and then didn't get it. They certainly feel entitled for that which they paid. I think attacking any player's idea of entitlement is wrong, simply because it goes both ways.

Also, for the guy who earned his Super Ultimate Sword via time, the achievement is largely in his own eyes. Picturing all achievers as swaggering braggarts is certainly inaccurate.

And also, not all achievement needs to require skill to be spectacular! If all it requires is dozens of hours of hard work, should they not still feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish? I definitely don't understand how some people look down on this idea or even seem disgusted by it. Hard work is to be admired, IMO. It might not (doesn't) make for an optimal game experience, but that's another issue again.

150.

Matt> Meaning what exactly? I'm still waiting to hear how you're prevented from doing ANYTHING you could before just because other people can buy things. I mean seriously, name a single thing this prevents you from doing. <

Errm, play with a bunch of people with whom its your history in this new world that counts, not your resources in the familiar world. But then, I’m much more interested in the world aspect of VWs than the game aspect. For me the leakage between the new world and the old makes them less viable as a place to enjoy exotic new experiences. Its kind of like going to see the Taj Mahal, and finding they’ve installed a MacDonalds and Burger King outlets on either side. Too much leakage from the exotic to the everyday world for my taste.

I still mourn the destruction of the Monk class in the original EQ. That originally was a class for whom material possessions didn’t make that much difference. I like to see that choice in more online worlds. Making every class so gear dependent seems an unnecessary dictatorship by the designer to me.

151.

> Dr. Richard Bartle wrote:
>
> I have a PhD. If anyone could buy a PhD,
> I wouldn't be prevented from doing anything
> I could do before just because other people
> can buy PhDs. All that's happened is that
> my qualification has completely lost all meaning.

Can we please get over ourselves? This kind of example is absolutely bonkers. There is absolutely no benefit, intellectually or philosophically, to comparing obtaining a PhD in real life to buying a virtual character (or items) in a game.


> Let's say I had an affair with a neighbour.
> My wife would be somewhat annoyed, yet what
> does my having an affair prevent her doing?
> It's creating more options and freedoms for
> both of us!

Ok Richard. Your hatred for the very concept of RMT is totally obscuring your reason now. I can understand that. As a game developer, I despise RMT and do everything I can to stop it in my games. When I say "do everything," that also means designing my games such that the desire to do so is miniscule and the rewards of RMT would be minimal at best. You have presented one wild, inapplicable analogy after another, but this one is the tops. Are you just pulling our collective leg now? Making us think the good doctor has lost his faculties? :)


> I don't play them all that much, you're right.
> As I've said before, they're not fun for me for
> long enough to get that far
.

That is precisely the problem! That is a huge reason a lot of "normal folks" are driven to buy gold, items, or characters.


> So you're saying that when games offer a
> distinct endgame, people should be allowed
> to play only that endgame, without ever
> having played through the, er, startgame?
> If Mythic were to offer DAOC servers where
> everyone started at L50, you'd be happy?

Just to make sure you know I am not "mewling" here, I want to remind you that I did level up three characters on DAoC to level 50 (two on my account and a third buff bot) and my wife leveled up two lvl 50s.

What would make me happy would be if game developers did not artifically stretch that 1->50 time to such a crazy degree. That 1->50 "grind" is at best fun once, if that. This "grind" to get to the real game is far too long, far too repetitive, far too boring, far too demanding on one's time, and is certainly a horror if you ever have to repeat it (your class gets nerfed, your guild/clan needs some different classes, you move servers for one reason or another, etc.).

It is a matter of degree to me. If a process is fun for 50 hours of game play, stretching it to 500 hours just because you can is NOT GOOD GAME DESIGN. Is it that extra, painful, artificially extended crap that a lot of reasonable folks wish they could bypass. Neither I, nor most people I know who are similarly encumbered with life, career, and family, wish to bypass the entire game.

152.

[Richard] So if that kind of content were available at lower levels (appropriately scaled) and the lower-level content (appropriately scaled) was all that was available at the higher levels, you figure most players would hang around at the lower levels where it's more fun?

I think it would partially reduce the incentive to skip through low level content, at the least the first time through the game. Of course the other reasons for RMT would still be there if this is all we changed, but I suspect this change would partially reduce the demand for RMT.

I agree with you here, yes. If these games did have a definite ending (for individual characters - I don't mean for the world as a whole) then it would completely change the dynamic in a positive way, and (perhaps perversely) people would play for longer, too.

I think this is why, for example, Sid Meier always builds a time limit in his games -- it becomes a matter of "how much can you accomplish within a set amount of time?" So on the whole I'd be very curious to see people experiment with this idea. On the other hand, this could be a double edged sword -- it could encourage more twinking and RMT in order to get more out of each character before he got too old. On the other hand, if you made it so that reaching level 50 is what started the timer, perhaps you would discourage twinking and RMT because there'd be no incentive to rush your character towards his end.

If the end-game is what people are paying to reach, that would suggest that once they reached it they would stop buying and selling things. Is there therefore no market in "ever-better gear" on IGE?

That's why I called it the "so-called" endgame. It's only an endgame in terms of levels and "worthwhile" stuff you can do without a large guild (i.e., worthwhile as in, things that will advance your character).

Also, at least in EQ1 and probably in WoW (not enough experience with the raiding game yet), it was hard to buy the very high end *items* due to no-drop (Bind on Pickup in WoW), character flags, and keys, and the market was skewed towards whole characters. IGE of course keeps a market in this too, so even if the market for gear declines in the high end, IGE still has business in the character trade.

I agree that much more can be done on the design side so that mixed-ability parties are viable. However, I don't think this would make much of a dent in the sales of higher-level characters; all it would do is reduce the number of people who cited catch-up as a reason for why they bought a higher-level character.

What are the sales numbers for characters like in City of Heroes? It's difficult to get great comparisons between games but it'd be interesting to see if in fact CoH has lower traffic due to their sidekicking system.

If we combine a lot of these things, so that there's less difference between gameplay at 10 hours and gameplay at 1000 hours, and that players at both points can meaningfully play together, I believe that RMT activity would go down a lot. This is also, however, not the game that EQ, WoW, and others were trying to make. Fundamentally these games use time spent playing a character as the means for advancement, which always introduces the temptation to pay RL money for someone else to spend that time. We could make a game that did not do this, but it might not be fun in the same way, and might not appeal to the people who enjoy the time = advancement formula of these games.

Guild Wars, if their "skill-based" gameplay is what they claim, might be this other sort of game, so I'm quite curious to see where it goes.

This is like saying that steroid use is a necessary product of body-building, so if we want to eliminate it altogether we have to redesign our body-building contests.

I think there's some truth to that. No matter how many rules we make and laws we pass, as long as we have body-building competitions the way they are, there will be temptation to use steroids to get ahead. I'm not *condoning* steroid use (nor am I condoning RMT), but I'm acknowledging that it will always happen unless we change the contests more drastically.

You acknowledge this in a post in the other thread, when you say, "However, will we still be seeing IGE selling characters on non-RMT servers? You bet we will!" I share Edward Castronova's optimism, though, that splitting the servers is one mechanism that can reduce the level or RMT on non-RMT servers from where it is now, even perhaps to near-nil.

I don't care if a few virtual worlds take the RMT path. I do care if they all have to take the path, whether this is because players, developers or law-makers don't know any different.

I think I'm more optimistic than you on this: I suspect there will be developers (Blizzard being one of them, at least for now) who will maintain non-RMT games.

153.

Jim Self wrote:

>What about games whose sole purpose is to defeat
>another person? Are FPS and strategy games only for the
>"sociopath 14 year old crowd"? I take it you're not a
>sports fan, either,

Admittedly it isn't so much of a problem now, but my main grievance was playing a generalised MMORPG like UO which had PvP players and non-PVPs in the same environment, which meant that in at least a few instances avoiding them wasn't an option. It's true that Trammel meant I was able to avoid them most of the time...but one of the ways I earned money as an example was by selling lizardmen hides. Because of the way UO's economy worked post-AoS, if a lot of people had been selling hides within a given 24 hour period (and generally a lot did, since it was a decent way to make fast money) then the asking price at tanneries all over Trammel would drop by close to 50% in some places. Because of that, I had to go to Felucca in a few instances. Lizardmen, as you possibly know, live among other places on the upper floor of dungeon Despise, which was my primary hunting ground for them. This meant that in order to hunt in a *PvM* manner, I had to brave groups of the aforementioned sociopathic 14 year olds in an environment where recalling out was impossible if they decided to swarm me. (Fel dungeon) Bandit NPCs I could have coped with, since I maybe would have had at least some chance of killing those...but my char was barely a fifth circle magic-user in most instances...I'd fail casting blade spirits more often than not...so there was absolutely no point in these griefers killing me, either for gold or for the challenge...they were just idiots who enjoyed annoying people. Before you also accuse me of farming in an RMT sense, I will say that the amount of gold it was possible to earn from this activity had been nerfed into oblivion...if I was fast, lucky, and found a tannery offering top prices, I could earn maybe 10k every 30 minutes. I was doing it purely to stay in stock with regs...not for the purposes of making several million gp to put on ebay. Also, before you comment on me failing to distinguish between PvPs and PKs, realise that in reality the difference between the two is genuinely a very fine line. Maybe 10% of the PvP peeps I've come across genuinely advocated guild wars/formal or pit tournaments where non-PvPs have a choice as to whether they are involved...the rest were bandits/griefers of the type I've described, who dishonestly tried to call themselves PvPs in order to lend an illusion of legitimacy to their actions.

I realise that in the above example you're probably going to simply respond with, "If you went into Fel, you would have known that griefers hang out in there...that's the whole reason why Trammel was created. Hence, if you get PKed there it's your own stupid fault." In the case of UO I could accept that argument...but what about WoW? According to one of the posts I've read on here, WoW does not have non-PvP areas...which again means that if I was to play WoW, contending with griefers would be something I'd have no choice about.

Holding player-run tournaments in a specific area (genuine PvP, as opposed to ambushing/griefing) I can cope with, because as I said above, that would give me a choice as to whether or not I was going to participate.

If a game (like DAoC for instance) is advertised and known as being primarily PvP oriented and I know this, then I can either avoid it based on that knowledge, or enter the game while knowing what to expect. This I think was at least partly my point.

With FPS as another example you quoted, it's common knowledge to anyone who knows anything about most of those games that they're about people shooting each other. If I log into a CounterStrike server, I've got a very good idea of what to expect...which is therefore why I never do.

So yeah...that's my point. I want a choice as to whether I have to deal with PvPs/PKs or not. If WoW doesn't have non-PvP areas, I'm not going to be playing that game, personally...though I know a lot of other people do, and good luck to them. Ditto for DAoC, which from what I've seen is an almost entirely PvP-oriented game.
The other good thing about having a choice of griefer or non-griefer environments, is that if the non-griefer environments are enforced, the griefers themselves have somewhere else to go without them bothering players like me.

154.

The whole problem on item selling started with the I R UBER club. In everquest for example you have large areas of the game where the casual player is banned from ever entering them. Guess where the top end gear comes from? Direct example: in the planes of power expansion the concept of flagging was born. To enter zone X you have to kill this list of monsters. It takes 70 players working together to kill each. They all have to have very good gear. Once you manage to do this you have to kill this list of monsters to get into zone Y. Oh you also need gear from zone X or you can forget it. The only folks that reach the top end of the game are folks in a raiding guild. Go look at the requirements for getting into a successful raiding guild. I have and they are ridiculous to say the least. The response to why are the req's so high is: We do not want any but serious, mature, intelligent players. What does the amount of time I play have to do with any of those? Power gaming guilds are made up mostly by collage students that have a great deal of free time every day. I work a job. I also have a pay check. You have the time and I have the money. I would have to say that this move by SOE will finally level the playing field some what.

155.

Anon>Can we please get over ourselves? This kind of example is absolutely bonkers. There is absolutely no benefit, intellectually or philosophically, to comparing obtaining a PhD in real life to buying a virtual character (or items) in a game.

Yes there is. The arguments you use to justify the former can be used to justify the latter. If you want to temper those arguments by saying that playing virtual worlds is just a leisure activity and not worth getting upset about, we can talk about that, but it's another argument. The point is that players who play virtual worlds to achieve (and there are plenty of such people) are very upset if other people come along and undermine that achievement. Now if you want to say that they should grow up, it's only a game or whatever, fair enough, we can have that debate. All my PhD argument was meant to show was that these people do get upset, and for reasons that other people would get upset for under different circumstances.

>Ok Richard. Your hatred for the very concept of RMT is totally obscuring your reason now.

No, no, you completely misunderstand. I don't hate RMT as a concept. I have been at pains to point out that if a virtual world is designed for it, or if its RMT concerns areas which don't impact on the success metric of the game, it's fine by me. Indeed, if people were to argue that such virtual worlds should be closed down as an abomination, I'd leap to their defence. What bothers me is that people who don't want RMT in their virtual world may have it imposed on them. That's what I'm arguing against here. It doesn't matter what my own personal preferences as a designer are; the important thing is the breadth of design. If we end up with all virtual worlds having RMT (or all of them not having it) then we are impoverished as a result.

>When I say "do everything," that also means designing my games such that the desire to do so is miniscule and the rewards of RMT would be minimal at best.

This is where we part company. I don't see that a virtual world designer should have to compromise their design just because some players want to play a different game to the one designed. Financially it may make sense to accede to them, at least in the short term, but so what? It's for the designer/developer to make that decision. I think there are plenty of ways to prevent this kind of thing from going on without having to design a different game. So long as there is a demand for non-RMT games, people who want to play those games should be allowed to do so without RMT.

Sony's move is to be welcomed in the short term, but I'm very uneasy about its implications. Will every person who currently uses IGE switch to Exchange servers? No, they won't: we'll still see people selling stuff on IGE-like services for non-RMT servers a year after the launch. Instead of being able to fall back on the more legitimate explanations of the kind you give ("I'm already an expert, I just want to change character class", that kind of thing), they'll be exposed as out-and-out cheaters. I'm worried that they may seek to legitimise their activities through the courts, using the precedent of the Exchange servers to make their case. If they won, this would have the effect of introducing RMT into all
virtual worlds, so people who want to play non-RMT games have nowhere to go. That's why my opening line about we're all doomed came from. I fear that SOE could inadvertantly sour things for everyone by making this move.

>That is precisely the problem! That is a huge reason a lot of "normal folks" are driven to buy gold, items, or characters.

So why do they play them? I wouldn't find them fun for more than a couple of hours even if I did have the skill and was given a character for free. The people who buy characters clearly find them fun for longer than that, because they still see these worlds as games to play. I see them as constructs to create, but then I'm a designer, not a player.

>What would make me happy would be if game developers did not artifically stretch that 1->50 time to such a crazy degree.

OK, that would make me happy too. So what you'd prefer, then, is for a virtual world to have grind for, what, 15 levels, then reach a plateau where there is no grind, just high-level content? The 15 levels would be like a tutorial so that genuine newbies could get up to speed, then they could play with the big kids at the same level? Something like that?

OK, well that would work for me as a design, and I'd like to see it put into practice. However, I don't think that the fact existing worlds do stretch their grind is sufficient reason to justify breaking their EULA. If you want a low-grind game, protest and lobby and argue for one, then when one appears vote with your feet.

>If a process is fun for 50 hours of game play, stretching it to 500 hours just because you can is NOT GOOD GAME DESIGN.

I agree, but the answer is to argue for change, not to spoil things for those people doing the 1-50 thing for the first time, who (perhaps naively) believe that levelling up matters.

Richard

156.

yph>I think I'm more optimistic than you on this: I suspect there will be developers (Blizzard being one of them, at least for now) who will maintain non-RMT games.

I'm a generally pessimistic person, because I can see so many ways in which things can go wrong (which is maybe why I'm a good programmer!). To me, this whole Exchange thing is the thin end of the wedge. I can see how it could be a boon to large numbers of IGErs of the kind who only trade virtual objects under protest because they feel their personal situation is not addressed by the non-RMT servers. Indeed, I hope that this is what does happen, and everyone is happy as a result.

However, I don't think it will happen. IGE are always telling us that they don't do farming themselves, they're just middle men who facilitate trade. IGE will therefore make not a penny on RMT servers. They will continue to sell to people on the non-RMT servers, but those people who take advantage of their services will not have any valid excuses: they will be exposed as actual cheats. They can either live with this or try to assert their position as being valid and everyone else's as being restrictive or oppressive. We could see legal challenges here, from players or from IGE-like companies (under anti-trust laws). The fact that SOE has accepted in principle that trading in virtual goods is legitimate opens all kinds of alarming doors.

I also have a more general concern that over time players will come to accept RMT as a way of life, and that it will seep into all virtual worlds anyway. This I see as a great shame, because it would remove the possibility that virtual worlds could be the "other worlds" of the hero's journey. They'll be fun, but not as much fun. People will wonder why anyone ever raved about them. All very sad.

Yup, natural-born pessimist, me!

Richard

157.

Richard> I also have a more general concern that over time players will come to accept RMT as a way of life, and that it will seep into all virtual worlds anyway. This I see as a great shame, because it would remove the possibility that virtual worlds could be the "other worlds" of the hero's journey. They'll be fun, but not as much fun.

Likely scenario. The probability of acceptance is like 80%. But I think there will be sufficient critical mass from the other 20% to create something different.

It's a lightning fork that split the tree trunk into two. The next gen designs will be much more sensitive to the effects of RMT (either for it or against it).

158.

> Richard Bartle wrote:
>
> If you want to temper those arguments by
> saying that playing virtual worlds is just
> a leisure activity and not worth getting upset
> about, we can talk about that, but it's another
> argument.

That is precisely the point. That is why fake PhDs matter and fake high level characters don't. People don't get PhDs for the joy of getting a PhD. They get it as a qualification for further work- often work that is truly important and can affect real people in positive or negative ways (educators, doctors, lawyers, etc.). People level up characters for its own fun, to play that character. You cannot compare Real Life, meaningful accomplishments with leisure, game accomplishments.


> This is where we part company. I don't see
> that a virtual world designer should have to
> compromise their design just because some players
> want to play a different game to the one designed.

You don't see the benefit of making the GAMEPLAY fun enough that people are not driven to bypass it by paying their way past it?

You do not see that as a good design goal?

Shouldn't every game designer try to make their content compelling enough that people are not so horrifically bored by it that they will pay REAL MONEY to get past it?

Isn't the fact that people are willing to pay real money to cut the absurd grind from 1000 hours to 100 hours indicative that the grind was made too long and too boring in the first place? I think the widespread existence of RMT is proof that most MMO designers have severely failed in their game design and should re-examine their efforts.


> I'm worried that they may seek to legitimise
> their activities through the courts, using
> the precedent of the Exchange servers to make
> their case.

I have been thinking about this as well. In my life before making games, I was
a lawyer, so issues like this interest me greatly.

I wonder if the effect might be the opposite. I wonder if by creating the Exchange Servers they could successfully argue the following:

"We have servers where players are allowed to buy/sell/trade their characters and items. We also have servers where they are not. Since players clearly have the choice to be on either, the fact that they are playing on a non-exchange server is incontrovertible proof that they have given up any possible right they might have to buy/sell/trade their characters/items."

It is worth considering at least.


>>> That is precisely the problem! That is a
>>> huge reason a lot of "normal folks" are driven
>>> to buy gold, items, or characters.
>
> So why do they play them?

I didn't go into that part in detail because I was getting verbose already. They play for all the OTHER reasons MMOs are actually fun: the social aspects, the ability to play a persistent game with their friends and family, and the fact that in between horrendously painful grinds, there is a lot of content to be enjoyed. Also, most games DO have some part that is done very well. DAoC's RvR for example. Before the Trials of Atlantis expansion, it was truly amazing. My wife, myself, and many of our friends would have (and did) endured a lot of suffering just to be able to participate in that extremely fun aspect.


> OK, that would make me happy too. So what
> you'd prefer, then, is for a virtual world to
> have grind for, what, 15 levels, then reach a
> plateau where there is no grind, just high-level
> content? The 15 levels would be like a tutorial
> so that genuine newbies could get up to speed, then
> they could play with the big kids at the same level?
> Something like that?

While I agree that might be interesting, my wishes do not require even
something that stringent.

I am specifically referring to the thing the developers OBVIOUSLY do just to stretch the grind. Insane travel times are one example. Mobs that only respawn once every 1-24 hours (or even once a week or month) are completely unnecessary- especially when they are required for something significant that a lot of players want to do. Or things like in World of Warcraft, where you are sent out to get something like "15 pieces of snuff" from pirates, but there are only 10-12 pirates that drop it (at the level of the quest), the drop rate is about 1/20, and they know there will be 3-5 people doing the quest at the same time. That is the sort of crap that is completely unnecessary and is just BAD game design. In fact, the drop rate of quest items in general in WoW is a thing to curse at incessantly, but that is another issue.

If MMO developers could just stop deliberately making something excrutiatingly painful and time consuming, when they know they truly do not have to, we'd be making tremendous progress.


> OK, well that would work for me as a design, and
> I'd like to see it put into practice. However, I
> don't think that the fact existing worlds do stretch
> their grind is sufficient reason to justify breaking
> their EULA

I agree. This is why I do not engage in such EULA breaking practices. I can, however, see perfectly well why people do.


>>> If a process is fun for 50 hours of game play,
>>> stretching it to 500 hours just because you can
>>> is NOT GOOD GAME DESIGN.
>
> I agree, but the answer is to argue for change,
> not to spoil things for those people doing the
> 1-50 thing for the first time, who (perhaps
> naively) believe that levelling up matters.

I agree with this as well. I do argue for change, and I also try and put the same ideas into practice when working on our games.

I think there are a TON of bad things about this Exchange Server segregation concept. But I also think it is a good first step to a far deeper understanding of what makes people engage in RMT and is an important step towards getting rid of the IGEs out there. Anything that works towards that is a good step. The fact that Sony is the company most likely to suffer any negative ramifications for being the early adopter just makes it even sweeter. :)

159.


At least some developers will (ostensibly) continue to fight the good fight.

http://www.gucomics.com/xviews/brad_interview.php

We shall see.

160.

Is it just me, or is this a pure religious thread ?

SOE is doing it, someone was bound to as it has been all over the place via ebaying for years - Pandora's boxes self-destruct on first opening, remember ?

If anything that's Good™ because: it points at what's inherently wrong in those games.

Either your design doesn't lend itself to ebaying,then feel free to point and laugh at poorly designed games (and cry over the revenue you miss out on this trade).

...or your game of choice is heavily ebayed and will soon include in-game RL money trade (mediated by in-game currency or not), then, well, that only means the design and the userbase beg for it.

Of course twinked-via-ebay characters are 'unfair'.
...on the other hand, players who think they can expect an even playfield and competition in any game that allows for significant twinking (by any means) are plain delusional.

All current big-scale games are grindfests (while some may be enjoyable, to an extent, as WoW).
Grindfest design basically means you bid your time until you get somewhere it's assumed you'll eventually get to play the 'real' game.

All current big-scale games make you bid your time, payable in time. Is it unfair people willing to spend more money and less time can do so ?
I for one don't think so, and it's actually good for the fabled player-on-a-shoestring-budget,as the big spenders are those who keep boats afloat.

When I'm short on cash,I fly coach, and I'm then (leg-)painfully aware that Business and First premium spenders are sponsoring part of my ticket. Do I then feel frustrated and hurt that they get better boarding conditions and seating than I do.
Weirdly, I don't. Because I'm not delusionaly competitive about being freight in a public transportation device I don't even drive.
Now think about EQ, SWG, whatever... Ding, you're not at the wheel either.

Now, when I play tennis, I'm glad some schmucks have been willing to pay premium for high tech gear for years so that I don't play with medieval wooden tools anymore, and that carbon-fiber sticks come so cheap these days.

Do I feel frustrated then ? No, because I know someone with a more expensive racket than mine will be able to repeatedly hand my arse to obly provided (s)he is significantly better than me, smarts and/or skill-wise.

Back to grindfests.
I never saw anyone complain it requires 10 players on each side to play a game of soccer while they have only 5 mates.

Design games that aren't depending solely on how much time and/or money you're willing to sink to gain an unmoveable competitive edge, and you solve the problem.

Games with more than one axis of progression, instead of D&D-styled skinner'ed power fantasies will hopefully emerge from the generalization of content commodification.

As twinking to win becomes strictly and obviously about penis envy, you'll see better games designed, that make room for more variety in playstyles, and games that accomodate controlled competition.

Hopefully you'll also see all-out competition in the form of wars, economic or political races, and these will require both time, money, people and skill.

/rant mode off

Cooling down,
-- Yaka.

161.

Do I feel frustrated then ? No, because I know someone with a more expensive racket than mine will be able to repeatedly hand my arse to obly provided (s)he is significantly better than me, smarts and/or skill-wise.

Then why is it you feel frustrated by player with more time than money?

(or vice versa)

Just play the game as it was designed, using the rules that were established.

If you can't, then don't play.

162.

> Yaka wrote:
>
> If anything that's Good because: it points at
> what's inherently wrong in those games.

I feel the same way. RMT is a major indictment of the way too many developers (through laziness, sloppiness, or just bad habits) have been over-stretching their content.

> Design games that aren't depending solely on
> how much time and/or money you're willing to
> sink to gain an unmoveable competitive edge,
> and you solve the problem.

Precisely. And the thing is, developers should already be doing this without the external motivator of RMTs.

MMO developers have gotten lazy and stopped innovating. They copy the exact same EQ grind model and wonder why players find ways to escape from that hell hole.


> CommonSense wrote:
>
> Then why is it you feel frustrated by player
> with more time than money?

I don't think Yaka said he was. That's the point. If the developer is going to be lazy, time and money should both be ways to bypass excrutiatingly over-stretched content.

163.

Much like the fabled chimp having a hissy fit on a typewriter, CommonSense (get an email, please) randomly hit my return key and a point.
Sheer luck, but still.

Just play the game as it was designed, using the rules that were established.

Alas, those games' designs tend to outgrow their own creators and escape their control, partly due to the nature of the medium.

Therefore, and much as unenforceable laws aren't laws and detract from law acceptance at large, unintended consequences eventually make right through might.

It can be argued that games that are designed (knowingly or not) to both encourage and allow RMT actually establish commodification as part of their ruleset.

If you can't, then don't play.

If you can't control design, then don't (or live with it).

kthxsetc.
-- Yaka.

PS: On a semi-related note, I think now is a good time to start sweating on concept papers, proposals and design docs for innovative mid/big budget MMOGs, as the old EQ-style designs will get old real fast (business wise) as RMT reaches common acceptance.

164.

Hellinar wrote:

Errm, play with a bunch of people with whom its your history in this new world that counts, not your resources in the familiar world.

Sorry, I'm not on board with this. I don't believe in banning people from socializing in-game with rl friends, which is what you're suggesting. Friends from rl are no different from money from rl. They're both resources that came from outside the game.

--matt

165.

Hellinar wrote:

Errm, play with a bunch of people with whom its your history in this new world that counts, not your resources in the familiar world.

Further, you have no way of knowing how someone got something. Aside from just petty jealousy, why does it matter that someone got something from sitting there hitting the 'kill monster' button over and over or hitting the 'buy ' button?

It all seems to come down to an insistence that your playstyle is right and other people's are wrong. I don't buy that anymore than I buy that people who drive across the country are 'cheating' someone who walks across the country out of the achievement of walking across the country.
--matt

166.

Aryoch > You cannot compare Real Life, meaningful accomplishments with leisure, game accomplishments. <

Well, I will give it a try. Since much of the argument on RMT is basically about how people assign value, I think it relevant. Just what is more meaningful about leveling up in EQ for a better breastplate, and leveling up at the office to get a later model SUV? Both players will say “I worked damn hard to get my new breastplate/car, so it’s a significant accomplishment”. In both cases, they see the “grind” as giving the achievement value. In both cases though, its ultimately a choice they have made.

As I see it, most of the modern economy is devoted to gameplay or entertainment. But the “grind” in the game is so intense, people get completely caught up in the getting the next level or object, without asking “do I really have to do this?”. Of course in the physical world, there is a critical survival component, but I would say that was very small. If you don’t think so, imagine a world in which the USA population suddenly dropped out of the Consumer Game, and took up the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk. But kept the high technology that produces most of our goods. We would probably all be working no more than a 3 day month to provide the necessities of life. It would be a very different world from the current one, but would it be any less meaningful?

I value the online worlds for the possibilities of new games, new experiences, new creative endeavors. Hooking them up to the tired old Consumer Game seems a bit of a step backwards to me.

167.

Barry Kearns wrote:

"How many major (successful) MMO titles can you name that are available today, which by design eliminate twinking?"

EVE online is skill-based, without levels, and skill training works in the background, one skill at a time, more powerful skills requiring more time.
I wouldn't say it strictly eliminates twinking, but by putting character development speed on the backburner, EVE does a nice job of keeping it low.

Other elements of the game make performance way more dependant on player skill and team coordination than character power, both in PvP and PvE, eg a few competent players with one week old characters and cheap frigates (rookie ships) can take on a solo player flying a battleship (most powerful ship in game atm) and possibly win.

Now, being a big fish in the medium-sized pond of 'below 100k subscribers', I don't know whether this game qualifies as "succesful MMO title", but it mostly fits the bill in my view.

fwiw,
-- Yaka.

168.

Matt> Further, you have no way of knowing how someone got something. Aside from just petty jealousy, why does it matter that someone got something from sitting there hitting the 'kill monster' button over and over or hitting the 'buy ' button?<

What I am asking for is a server on which I do know how someone got something. I play fantasy MMORPGs for story acquisition, not object acquisition. The history of how people got their object is the major point for me. It really, really matters in a story centered world.

Matt> It all seems to come down to an insistence that your playstyle is right and other people's are wrong. <

If I have given that impression, I haven’t been clear. I am simply asking for diversity, not that all players follow my one true path. A diversity of servers with differing rulesets would suit me fine. But for diversity to flourish, there must be some servers that have some insulation from outside influences. By agreement of the players there of course. Without that, they all become one interlinked ecology, and diversity suffers.

As for socializing with friends, on a roleplay server at least, I would expect people to respect the narrative fictions of the world they are in. I don’t see that as any more of an imposition that asking to two coworkers at a dinner party to park their workplace discussions at the door, and stick to topics meaningful to the whole table. In a typical online world, its even less of an imposition, as you can use private chat to talk about concerns that are not part of the shared fiction.

169.

> Hellinar wrote:
>
> Just what is more meaningful about leveling
> up in EQ for a better breastplate, and
> leveling up at the office to get a later model SUV?

Are you seriously asking this question? It is utterly absurd.

Furthermore, does it make my SUV less valuable if someone else in the world got one as a gift? Nope.

Comparing a job to a game is really, really ridiculous.

> What I am asking for is a server on which
> I do know how someone got something.

And how will you know that they didn't get the items as gifts from friends?

How will you know they didn't hire some 12 year old nermal to sit at their computer and level their character up for them?

You do know that one of the things sold on ebay are "levelling services" where they login and level up your character and get him/her gear, right?

What you are asking for is selfish and freakishly controlling. How about you focus on yourself a little more and worry less about how other people are enjoying the game.

170.

Aryoch spouted: Comparing a job to a game is really, really ridiculous.


Erm, when you get PAID to play, its no longer a game, it *is EMPLOYMENT*.

Don't forget your applicable tax paperwork.

Most of the people here are not arguing there can not be RMT servers in a game designed for it, the arguement remains tho that RMT in servers/worlds that are NOT designed explicitly for it, are cheating.

As for as "might makes right", I'm sure a certain few World War 1 & 2 era leaders thought that too...

It's painfully obvious that many people do not know or accept right from wrong or know anything about honesty, honor, or integrity , I blame their parents.

171.

Aryoch> "How about you focus on yourself a little more and worry less about how other people are enjoying the game."

You do understand the concept that, in a massively multiplayer setting, how "other people are enjoying the game" affects how you and I enjoy our game, right?

--Flatfingers

172.

Petrus wrote:

>>
I realise that in the above example you're probably going to simply respond with, "If you went into Fel, you would have known that griefers hang out in there...that's the whole reason why Trammel was created. Hence, if you get PKed there it's your own stupid fault." In the case of UO I could accept that argument...but what about WoW? According to one of the posts I've read on here, WoW does not have non-PvP areas...which again means that if I was to play WoW, contending with griefers would be something I'd have no choice about.
>>


This makes more sense to me. I'd still be careful about lumping PvP and griefing into the same mentality and then saying they can all go to hell (not *exactly* what you said :). It invites the kind of indignant though uninformed remarks as I made above.

173.

> CommonSense (wow, that's a poorly chosen nickname) wrote:
>
> Erm, when you get PAID to play, its no
> longer a game, it *is EMPLOYMENT*.

Straw man.

> the arguement remains tho that RMT in servers/
> worlds that are NOT designed explicitly for it,
> are cheating.

Another straw man.

Of course it is cheating. If it is against the rules and you do it, you are cheating. That isn't the argument at all.


> As for as "might makes right", I'm sure a
> certain few World War 1 & 2 era leaders thought that too...

Yet another straw man.

Come on man, get in the game here.

174.

> Flatfingers wrote
>
> You do understand the concept that, in
> a massively multiplayer setting, how "other
> people are enjoying the game" affects how
> you and I enjoy our game, right?

That's a good argument if the things you are talking about actually have a direct impact on other people.

The reality is that if someone else is running around with the Uber Sword of Leetness that has no effect on yours. If you actually feel that someone else having it devalues yours, you REALLY need to get a different hobby and probably need psychological help.

The above type of childish mentality should not be encouraged, rewarded, or catered to. It should be purged and forgotten except to occasionally reflect upon it as a "dark age" for online games.

175.

Aryoch>And how will you know that they didn't get the items as gifts from friends?<

In a story oriented server, the extra bit of logging to keep a transaction history for any special object like a powerful sword would be pretty trivial. And if A gives B a fancy sword, it’s a nice part of both their stories. In such a world, generousity is a feature, not a bug.

Aryoch> How will you know they didn't hire some 12 year old nermal to sit at their computer and level their character up for them? <

You are implicitly assuming leveling up your character is the foreground game. In a story based world, it becomes background. That’s why I think simply taking something like a WoW server and adding a couple of lines of code to limit leveling rate would likely create a first approximation of the environment I am looking for. A gameworld optimized for story telling, with an Official History kept by the server would be better. But it seems much more resource efficient to argue for a WoW server with a couple of lines of code different, than it does to replicate all the effort that went into WoW to add a couple of features.

Aryoch> What you are asking for is selfish and freakishly controlling. <

Games have a mutually agreed ruleset. I don’t see how group of people getting together to play to a particular agreed ruleset is “freakishly controlling”.

176.

Folks you have to understand why SOE is doing this. Most see reason #1. Its a lot of money out there and they want a piece of the pie. There is also reason #2 and you have to be aware of it as well. Lineage 2.1 million players, lineage 2 2.2 million, WoW 1 million plus. SOE total for SWG, EQ, EQ2...about 1 million:). 18 servers in everquest merge down to 8 but this is not a sign of a population decline per SOE. The casual player to put it simple is tired of it. Make it hard to reach point X but do NOT make it impossible. Everquest started the make it impossible. As a casual player I dont mind if the power gamer beats me to the plane of time by 6 months or a year. What I do mind is that I am paying for the content but will never enjoy it! The root cause of this is two fold. One SOE listened to there fanboy club. You can see them very easy on the SOE forums. They are most of the folks that have 1,000+ posts. Does the casual player post every day on the forums? Heck no and for the same reason they do not play every day LOL. If you read the forums it appears that the game players are leaning one way when in fact they are not. The second problem is the SOE devs play there own game. How many of the top end players are SOE devs? They have actually answered this question. At the first Everquest player summit the question was asked and answered. I was not supprised in the least by the answer. Just for those that dont know: SOE invited a number of players to have a summit with them to make the game better. The folks that were invited were top guild leaders and producers of the top everquest fan sites. One of the fan site producers asked a very telling question. He asked: "How many people here including SOE staff are NOT time flagged on there personal accounts?". The person that asked this question was the ONLY one to raise his hand. A poster above said if he pays couch on a airline...What about when you pay the same as everyone else but only the top 10% get to ride in first class? When ever a casual player does post a complant on the SOE forum the fanboy club stomps all over there complaint and always ends with: "If you dont like it then dont play!". I wont do the RMT route so I clicked the cancel button:). Its simple really. If you stomp on the peasants...I mean the casual gamers enough then they will leave. Thats what is happening with SOE right now. I wont do the RMT but I can fully understand those that do. They are not LAZY. They are not CHEATERS. They are just tired of being treated as second class while paying for first. They buy the character or items online because they believe that they will get months of enjoyment for the price paid. Sometimes even years. What folks need to unerstand is simple. When you finally break down and set up a forum handle then go in and post your complaint try looking around a second. See all the other people complaining that have 10 or less posts on the forums? Notice how the same 8 to 10 1,000+ post folks are slaming all there complaints? There is only one protest you can do that will ever work. So when one of the loud mouthed fanboys tells you on the forum: "If you dont like it quit!"...Then quit:)

177.

Michael, that was an excellent and very incisive post. Your point about the forums is excellent. What developers should understand is that trolls and fanbois are the same species. The only difference between them is which direction they are facing at the moment.

Too many developers get wrapped up in listening to the most vocal (and obsessive players). A perfect example of that in WoW right now is how there is no /stick command or ability to /follow NPCs or enemies.

This makes the game a carpal tunnel nightmare- especially for melee. Having to battle lag, weird facing issues, etc. is not a matter of skill. It is an interface issue of annoyance. In PvP, it is just silly that someone can exploit lag and the ability to juke like a combo between Neo and Barry Sanders is silly. But the psycho fanbois insist this is "skill" and that DAoC (and every smart game developer out there) is wrong about /follow and /stick.

People want to get a good return on their time and their money. These are both very similar investments. For some people, their time just frankly isn't worth much. So they don't care about a 10 hour straight raid. For other people, their time IS very valuable, and thus paying money for something is their only option to obtain something that you'd normally need to do something they honestly could never reasonably do.

But they DO want to enjoy the full content of the game, and thus they find a way.

It is still cheating, but the reasons for doing it are not laziness or impatience. The reason is simply a cost-benefit analysis performed for the sake of getting full enjoyment out of something that someone is paying for.

178.

To Dmitri: In your first post, you pose the situation that a player with no real world cash gets beat by someone who spent cash, and then quits the game. What people so often forget is that even the guy with no real world cash has the opportunity to advance in the game (through skill), and eventually find items THEY can sell for cash. The person with no money all of a sudden has money and over time can buy the +5 sword of leetness with the money he has earned in game.

In the end, the game is equal opportunity for everyone. There is no unemployment, anybody can kill a monster (particularly if that moster is instanced), and anyone can make money at any time.

It frustrates me that people complain about the money situation when in fact they have every opportunity to earn money themselves to participate in the trade.

179.

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