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MMO's: the difference between inspiration and recycling.
by Colm McAndrews on 08/21/10 08:04:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Thousands of persons are worried that Vigil games, with their Warhammer 40k: Dark Millennium Online, are about to cook the usual pastiche WoW threadmill of levels, quests, maps and gear handed-over gratuitously mixed with a linear story and instanced PvP. There was an interview stating "if you're familiar with WoW, you'll feel right at home". This phrase could mean anything, who knows what that person had in mind when saying it, maybe he was thinking of combat(hopefully, because i don't mind point&click combat one bit).

But i was thinking about my character spawning at the usual newbie village/camp, looking for NPC's with an exclamation mark, a window that opens, a few epic blabla, a little objective of collecting space rats, 2 rewards and finally a marker on the map telling me where to run for my first errand... and while i run i gaze at nice things i can't touch... then when i'm done with all NPC's i'm sent to the next map and so on... then i can queue for an instance where PvP is relegated. I don't need to explore, i don't need to find my way to gain riches, i don't need to socialize for gear, i don't need-to-do-anything because chilling quests will give me all i need.

So... at this point a slice of the community will say there's nothing wrong with it as long as the story is good, graphics are too, weapons are big, space marines are epic and they make me feel good about myself without the need to stuff my underwear with paper.

AND I'M FINE with these persons! I respect people's tastes, they want a MMO that's an accessible themepark game because that system is efficient, it works, and after having played WoW for years, they die to see it in a different scenario.

But there's a little misunderstanding with an other part of the community. When we yell at WoWclone, their first answer is "then Half-life is the clone of Wolfenstein", which is such a funny statement, because they believe we're talking about the generic presence of quests, the generic presence of levels, of maps, of NPC's, of PvE, even of instances. Half-life is a clone of Wolfenstein because it has weapons, it has first person view, etc.

But if we actually complained about generic gameplay parts we'd be insane. The generic concept of a quest is that somewhere there's something to be done. How can anyone complain that there is such a thing in a game? Of course there is. We aren't mad at that.

When we complain, we don't think of the generic concept of "quests"(among other parts), we're thinking of the EXACT quest we all saw and played on WoW(and all other MMO's ever since WoW), we're thinking of an NPC with an exclamation mark-type symbol above his head and the rest of the process you read above.

The same can be said for every other element but as you can see quests usually take up 95% of the game's content(lore, exploration, profit, equipment). What's left? Instanced pointless PvP.

So i repeat, these people can't say "then every game is a clone of the previous" because we're not referring to generic gameplay parts that's alright to recycle, but we're noticing that THAT specific gameplay part is exactly IDENTICAL to the cloned one.

This should solve the issue and my aim is to be useful to the community.

Vigil Games' are about to make an MMO that will probably feature the usual gameplay mechanics, because they know players accept those parts as an inevitability, they accept quests and levels in the usual way because they don't see they're identical to every other MMO, they see them as the generic concept of quests, they don't question its identicality. Developers got LAZY because of us, because we can't see this difference, but if we are able to perceive it, to perceive this shameless recycling of the exact same gameplay, then the rebellion can begin.

Maybe it's already begun.

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Edward Nunez
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At first I was gonna say "Yay another one sided argument about how the cookie cutters are right and he ones who want change are wrong." but then you redeem yourself towards the end. Both sides are right and wrong and if Vigil can't understand that they need something different and can't really just slap in some quests, instances and vertical progression and call it a day. Then Vigil is gonna get a giant storm of rage coming at them ( it's already happening now with the recent 2 faction confirmation on top of the obvious catering to the WoW player community ) I just don't understand why these companies keep trying to copy WoW when obviously only Blizzard can do WoW right...

They claim they've learned from other company's mistakes but they really haven't. It's all talk and never any walk. It's like a placebo effect.

Rogerio Morais
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Considering Darksiders was a major recycle of established elements I think it's safe to say Dark Millenium won't be the most innovative title in the genre. My opinion is that MMO developers should walk away from the gimped single player game model they have been following and focus on the multiplayer aspect of it (and I'm not talking about PvP). Where's the player affecting the world part of the MMOs we were promised years ago and never got to see it? Why can't high level chars give quests to the low level ones? Why can't the main history of the game be built dinamically as alliances are forged and broken by PLAYERS, not NPCs? Why can't a player be an emperor of a nation? These aspects have been ignored, guilds are just a way to get a dungeon or pvp group together. The MMO that will take it up to the next level is the one that takes that into consideration.

Colm McAndrews
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"When ANY genre of ANY form of human creativity accumulates too many rigid standards that some feel obligated to follow, usually after the coming of a hugely successful work, it always means one thing: stagnation".