Will the Sky Fall…

…if MMOs come to consoles? Over at VirginWorlds.com Brent assesses the situation and surmises “we have no problem.” He mentions that Everquest Online has been a console title for years and it is inevitable that other titles will come to the console market. In fact, some newer MMOs are being released primarily on the console and the PC is the secondary platform, states Brent. These comments and the article came in response to The Common Sense Gamer’s assertion that the console market is much like the World of Warcraft population.  Game Informer reports in the April print issue that The Burning Crusade sold 2.4 million copies in North America–and that was in the first 24 hours of its release.  There are a huge number of gamers out there, as Blizzard has demonstrated.  Whether the genre becomes a console mainstay or continues being a PC-specific activity, we are going to see increasing numbers of players.

I have to agree with TCSG’s assessment, however;  both the console and the WoW population are ones I do not care to game with. The console market will be a problem for MMO gamers, but I also realize we probably don’t have much choice either. The game manufacturers will seek to put their product in front of as many paying customers (and they hope, subscribers) as possible, and tapping into the console market will help them do that. However, I decided some time ago that the “time sink” and the raid system alone is not enough to keep the “asshats” out of endgame guilds or from generally hindering the enjoyment of the game for normal, sedate, and mature players. WoW is full of people who are experiencing their first MMO and making the mistakes anonymous, selfish people make when there are little to no consequence to their actions, as I wrote late last year. Further, games like Everquest II have brought their leveling system into line with WoW in order to compete and allow for a much greater degree of solo leveling than was common just a few years ago, helping people with no social skills move towards the endgame more easily.

However, there is a distinction between the “loot whore” or the overbearing gaming know-it-all and what the above two posters term “asshats.” In my Clan gaming experience (in [OgV]), beginning with Battlefield 1942, the mod Desert Combat, Battlefield Vietnam, and most recently Battlefield 2, we had a different term for the ignorant and generally malicious FPS denizen who team killed for vehicles, hacked to advantage, and unfortunately, put racist, profanity-laced comments over the in-game channel—that term was “Smacktard.” The connotation that this player is developmentally-challenged applies—they haven’t learned to play the game, and probably won’t because playing by the rules is boring for these extroverts—they need to ruin the game for other players in order to enjoy themselves. I normally “fragged” with the server admin panel up on my laptop so I could ban them without alt tabbing out of the game.  Persistant worlds in games such as Neverwinter Nights also suffered from hackers and unscrupulous players.

I do not have admin permissions on Crushbone, unfortunately. But this is a problem we don’t have to confront on our own, however. We have established guilds, a network of online friends, and a manner of playing that suits us—it is a social experience, which is why most of us continue to renew our subscriptions. If we want to induct new players into the gaming etiquette specific to your MMO, we have to demand these players conform to our expectations if we group with them and certainly if we guild these players. New blood is an asset to games, and more players means a dynamic economy and a lot more choice in grouping and the marketplace. I must admit part of my decision to leave WoW, with both my accounts, was the belief the bad elements of the population would never learn to act like mature individuals and either I would need to join them, or get out—and I chose the latter.

Fifteen years ago, during the heyday of the MUD, MOOs, and MUSHs, you had a healthy “asshat” population, even on a server of 300 players.  This hasn’t changed.  Human nature is static–people have been acting like fools since we came together online–if I searched my memory I could probably come up with examples of this type behavior from my BBS days in the 80s.  We have always had to deal with these people online, and in daily life as Brent points out, if we have any social interaction at all.  However, we tend to remember the bad experiences we have online, and sometimes the view that “all” the other players act that way overwhelms one’s sense of community in a game.

If I evaluate the MMO market objectively, and step back from my personal experiences over the last twenty years, I agree adding a large number of subscribers can be an asset to MMO gaming, though it will undoubtably have a detrimental impact in some areas. How will it work in my current game of choice, Everquest II, if SOE ever decides to put it on the console market? I don’t know. I am not sure how the title would sell, as I am not a market analyst. I do know if I encounter “asshattery” I will try my best to redirect such behavior and help the newbie have a successful experience ingame. I may fail, but if enough players join me in demanding a certain level of play, I think all but the most recalcitrant “asshat” will have to conform, and we already have a goodly number of those type of players, on gaming rigs I’ll never afford, I’m quite sure. In the last word, I will not stereotype the entire console-owning population as “smacktards,” but adopt a wait and see attitude. I think we will all be in for some suprises.

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11 Responses to Will the Sky Fall…

  1. darrenl says:

    Very well said sir.

    Thanks.

  2. Kilanna says:

    Well said.

    I completely agree with you. My young nephew and some of his friends have recently joined me on EQII. I am helping to show them some of the ettiquette that you have refered to in your previous article. Makes for more fun all round:)

    New blood means more players, easier grouping and a vibrant economy. More subsribers means more resources are available for the devs to bring excellent expansions with lots of crunchy goodness more opportunity to meet lots of interesting people from all around the world, and more guilds with larger populations to suit different peoples playing styles.

    If it is easier to group in game, then this means that you dont have to group with the “asshat” cos there are plenty of other options. Unless that type of person is completely clueless i suspect they might soon learn that if you dont behave in a certain way then you will miss out on the social aspect of the game and also a large part of the game content that requires groups.

    I have heard that there are some EQII servers that deliever a less than completely enjoyable gaming experience due to a minority of the population. Is the “asshat” population in WoW more ubiquitous?

  3. Gaff says:

    I don’t think I can answer the question with empirical evidence, howevever because there are so many active players on WoW servers you tend to see behavior that falls under the above definition at every turn. You can’t miss it when any number of channels are flooded with comments indicative of immature and/or malicious people. Even if you turn off the trade channel, the general channel, in some cases the guild channel, you only have to read your server forum to see this type of behavior.

    Is it exclusive to WoW? Of course not–but because of the huge population I think there are “ubiquitous” examples. You merely need to turn your “General” channel back on to see them. I will state, as a disclaimer, I have seen the same behavior in EQ2, and it seemed much more pronounced when there were larger server populations.

  4. Yunk says:

    Yes, WoW is simply awful. I found some good people to group with, but even then, I have to ignore 90% of the population. I haven’t really played anything else.

    And even though on our RP server, we tried to make it a good environment, we cannot possibly keep up with the thousands of idiots that roll characters, especially when Blizzard, for some stupid reason, has not only “RP” as the first option so people pick it, but also kept recommending our server even when we reached high population. No matter what we do, we can’t try and be examples or teach people when you have that many new people every day. Not to mention how many people have admitted they came to the RP server with the express intention of griefing. And on my pvp server it’s a million times worse. The forum is a cesspool of children yelling and swearing, so is most of the server. It’s like lord of the flies.

    So, I just started LOTRO, and was hoping it would be better. And it is a little, but then my server in WoW was a lot better in the beginning too, but by a year later it was falling to fast to recover, now it’s barrens chat everywhere, even in /yell.

    I used to think it would be better if more parents played with their kids, but then some of the more famous griefers on our server are father/son teams. I have just learned to develop a thick skin and ignore people.

  5. Gaff says:

    Ah yes, Barrens Chat–it is code for “simply over the top” chat–

    I guess I understand there will be people like this, but when they seemingly infest even guilds I join, and get ahead by doing so, I have to move on to greener pastures or decide to spend my life soloing.

    Thanks for the input Yunk.

  6. Kesselia says:

    Hey Gaff,

    I just discovered your website from Wil’s and after reading some of your postings this one hit home for me as per recent events on my side of Norrath. I unfortunately just discovered another part of EQ2 I could do without. The EQ2 Flame website. I found a friend of mine from my server got flamed …I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say even tho it’s good for a laugh the stuff posted there makes me cringe nine times out of ten. I just hope I never wind up on that website myself.

    It’s only of late I’ve come upon the term, “asshat” and yet I’ve been playing EQ2 since last February. Sorry I come from a very strict upbringing…yes I know what swear words are…but the use of them has been stricly forbidden …even with my husband he gets very angry when I utter the occasional four letter word.

    I’ve seen my fair share of people spamming the chat channels with all types of malicious verbal assaults ranging from grown adults to teenagers who take the game to seriously, have no etiquette whatsoever, no manners, and no respect for anybody or anything. I’ve had mobs ganked from me, nodes stolen from me and been verbally cussed out in game over various matters.

    This in the end explains why after my raid experience and guild experience I choose to disappear in the crowd on my various alts leaving only my closest friends to try and come find me and track me down when they want to chat or need something from me ie. need group help or an item tradeskill made that they know I’ll make for free or for cost of fuel if rare is provided.

    *sigh* so many times I’ve been at the point of wanting to cancel my account due to being so unhappy with EQ2…but I’ve learned to shut off all my chat channels unless I’m in dire need of a group or social interaction of any sort. Generally I play alone, solo style in complete silence. I’ve learned to enjoy solitary confinement of sorts if you choose to call it that. =) So far so good. PS. beware during Spring Break and Summer Break when the teenagers flood the servers /groan.

    Hehe.

    Ye faithful blog reader,

    Kess

  7. Gaff says:

    Yes–I have had similar experiences, though it was a MUCH more common experience in World of Warcraft. I tend to only group with people I know in EQ2. I have found it better to not respond to tells from people I do not know, unfortunately. It is just another element of the game anymore–but playing with people you know and trust makes all the difference. I do also tend to solo, but since I have two accounts I can do a whole lot more than the average player–that has helped my playability and enjoyment of the game immensely.

  8. Kesselia says:

    Aye I play with my husband and I try to two box. Unfortuantely with even with a brand new three thousand dollar computer I still have a difficult time soloing not due to my skill but due to the computer constantly locking up on me or lagging so bad it uses up what patience I have just trying to do simple stuff.
    I do have an extra toon slot available and if y’all don’t mind someone making it three’s a crowd I’m thinking of trying a toon your crushbone server as I hear it’s a bit quieter and not so many raids guilds. Let me know if you are interested in having a skilled knowledgeable and fun to be with gal in yer guild.

    Ye Faithful blog Reader,

    Kess Aka Ye EQ2 lady Alt-Aholic

    PS. thinking along the lines of warlock or wizzie..

  9. Gaff says:

    Sure! We have a small alt guild 🙂 Just holler at Gaff in game. I’m on most evenings. DPS is good–since I have 2 tanks, and Wil has at least one. We have 2 healers between us–but you should play whatever you think would be fun! You might find me on as Meclin if you don’t see Gaff or Lurk.

  10. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Oh yeah, come on over to Crushbone. If nothing else, we have a level 28 umbrella guild. I don’t recall what mage classes Lanipedia has, but neither Gaff nor I have much in the magical trade.

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