Larry's latest Hyperspace Beacon was a continuation of his extensive look at how certain races and classes fit together in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The conversation in the comments took a turn to the natural frustrations so many players run into regarding limits of race, class, and storyline. This frustration can apply to a huge percentage of the MMOs currently in existence, and Massively reader Resurge pointed out that it's a bit of a necessary evil:
What exactly would you suggest instead? A million unique storylines, one for each of us who ever plays the game? Maybe a random quest story generator... 'cause RNG is always so much fun. A different story for every race/class combo? (I can hear the moaning already: "Stupid SWTOR, I HAVE to be human 'cause I hate the Zabrak story!")
Regardless of where the line is drawn, there are finite amounts of story available. At some point, a team just has to say, "OK, that's how many origins we are gonna offer" -- eight classes and eight storylines that perhaps then branch out with the subclass system later. Sounds like a reasonable number to me. Sure, more is better, but I'd rather have eight good, well thought-out storylines than 32 half-assed ones, if that's the choice.
The discussion was centered around SWTOR
story, of course, but readers had several thoughts on this limitation as it applies to the industry as a whole. Are there ways around this? Should the future of MMO gaming bring more choices in backstory and ongoing storyline?
Beau wrote a Free for All column this week
venturing into Second Life
. Yes, Second Life
. His mission was to find out whether it's possible to avoid the adult content in SL
and play the fabled "other content." The ensuing discussion in the comments was enthusiastic and diverse, as you can imagine, but reader Caliburn Susanto
made an excellent point that holds true for every genre -- and every MMO, for that matter:
Comments about the demise of Second Life are always to be viewed with an eye on the private agendas of the doomsayers. Something about it annoyed or annoys them: They got their feelings hurt there, they went there to "have a little fun" (that's what griefers always say -- "I was just having a little fun"), and got in trouble, or lost some money on a bad land deal, or who knows what else.
Because they now personally don't like SL, they want it to fail and are trying to convince everyone else that it is doomed. It is, in fact, doing all right and is a highly enjoyable and even on many levels a very fulfilling experience once you get past the awkward newbie stage (learning the interface).
Of course it is doomed, eventually. And you know what? Everyone writing on this blog post, and everyone reading it, is doomed, eventually. Everyone. So... shall we not enjoy and love them because they will eventually expire? Of course not, what rubbish. Second Life is an incredible achievement, both of its founders and technicians, and of its users who create the fantastic content. Personally, I'm out to enjoy and love it to the last moment. Its, or mine.
Eliot's new Ask Massively edition
included some discussion of voice chat, prompting Kasapina
to make some well thought-out points regarding some of the limitations and difficulties of voice chat:
Regarding voice chat, one of the problems would be that it's not always apparently present -- I've played some games where I noticed its existence much later than I should have. Additionally, voice chat use is a lot more common among organized group players, meaning that trying to use the game's voice chat to contact randoms most often results in a chat conversation or a lack of reply -- it's more common to have a microphone on hand and plugged in the computer if you're in a guild that requires it than if you're just doing some casual leveling. For example, in All Points Bulletin, if I were to enter in a random group, the most likely outcome would be one where nobody uses a mic, even when asked.
The second most common outcome would be a clan group that has voice chat and is looking for a filler player. It's rare to meet a random player who is able to use voice chat. Another problem is that in-game voice chat is not available out of game, and it often is zone/group-specific. It's customary for my Guild Wars guild to have two or three players who don't have their game turned on and are just hanging out in Vent, either waiting for a dungeon invitation from a guildie or just to pass 10 minutes.
And how do we go about alliance councils, which sometimes have more than 100 people connected? You can't force that many players to leave what they are doing to come within earshot of each other, and you can't exactly group with them either. Thus, at the very least, voice chat in a game needs to both be popularized by the developers and be independent of player location, group, guild, and faction to be viable.
As always, Massively readers are a pretty smart bunch with some great things to say. You are one of that number, so jump in! Hit the comment button and tell us what you think.