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And so I says to Mable, I says...

I, Garland, shall knock Mable down!

No. That's NOT what I says. I says to Mable, I says...

Pipe down. It's Mailbag time.

Is that what he said?

No. Again, that's NOT what I says. I says to Mable, I says...

Shhhh... I just said it's Mailbag time.

Wait... Mailbag time?

Mailbag time.

Mailbag time! Woo

Yes indeedy. Too bad Kagon's not here. He's sick or something. As for DG, we think he's dead.

Yeah, no one has seen from DG since he went on a field trip with his college professor :O

I think his professor killed him then replaced him with a cybernetic DragonCyborg.

I wonder if Dragon Cyborg would help us with the mailbag... Better yet, I wonder how many sidekicks he has!

Probably more than the first DG, which is quite a lot.

That's ridiculous. Nevermind, I refuse to work with Dragon Cyborgs!

As do I. Damn hippie cyborgs...

Hmm, speaking of hippie cyborgs, we have a mailbag to do!

Yes we do...

No we don't.

Yes we do.

No we don't.

Yes we do.

No we don't.

No we don't?

Yes we do.

Hah!

WOOO

Damnit!

*jumps for joy*

Guess what that means. You get to get the first Reply, Energon.

Rasafrasa... *Grabs a random letter* It's from Aaron Smith. You better watch out, boy, or I'll hunt you down and beat you with a Q-Tip.

I currently play the MMORPG Anarchy Online (AO). There are many things that I think could be fixed about this game to make it more innovative, more catching to those of us gamers out there checking out the shelfs, searching the web sites to see which one of these products deserves the cash that we shell out to have fun. Which one of these games will have the best bang for our buck?
The one thing that I think all MMORPGs is a story. The people that have created AO (Funcom) have forgetton this and let the community twiddle our thumbs for 6 months, and only came to their defense when the guilds ingame threatened to overthrow the governments setup in them (would not have occurred, but it sure woke up the creators).
What does this say to me? This says that in order to keep people interested in your game is to have it develop new content. Have interaction happen between the GMs and the players. Keep the events alive and happening! Don't let us sit in stasis, spitting out patch after patch fixing 'problem areas' with the professions while the boredom builds since NONE OF US HAVE ANYTHING TO DO but camp and find that uber crap that only the high level players can get.
Also, if your game is based upon a war between factions (which AO is), then LET US COMMIT ACTS OF WAR! If your basis is war, then let it happen!

I agree to an extent...however I believe that MMORPGs are meant to be more gameplay based. But, if you have more story and more foundation, you can do more with it, so there is that.

Yes. More story would be nice, but it has to be written well enough to let there be open end gameplay.

Exactly. Hmmm...next reply!

You want to get it, or should you get it?

Wow, you're being especially couteous today. Just for that...I'll let you get it. :D

Oh. Thank you. Next up is Jacob Walker.

Let us see... How could MMORPGs be improved? Well, I'll give the answer everyone else is giving to start with, that it, cut the monthly fees. I don't mind paying a ridiculous initial fee for a MMORPG, but I refuse to pay for it over and over and over and over and over again.
Secondly: A system for deterring hackers, jerks, scammers, and other unfavorable folks that are the reason I avoid MMORPGs: Make a court. This court will be combined with a system that keeps a record of everything that happens during the day. It will keep track of every single thing in the fantasy land, and is reset at midnight. All that information is stored on a second server.
Now, if you're harassed/cheated/scammed/hacked/whatever, you file a complaint that same day to the court. A bunch of people will be hired in order to act as judge/jury for these cases, being paid minimal wage to oversee thyem. These judges decide whether the complaint is legitimate, and, if so, decide the punishment. This can range from a monetary penalty to "jail time" (temporary ban). Nifty system, eh?

...A system, eh. I could imagine it now. "Before you enter this place, you have to step through the jerk detector!"

Sounds like our idea to implement a chat room IQ test.

We had an idea like that? Since when?

Since, uh, you know...

...OH! Of course. ahem.

As for the pay to play thing, yeah. That's the main reason I don't really play any MMORPGs.

Yeah, that kinda makes it hard. It's understandable, but still, it prevents us poor people from enjoying the experience.

And us miserly people too.

Yep yep. I'll uh, get the next reply. This next one comes from d galloway.

*emerges from the shadows* I have returned!
MMORPG? For the most part, they don't need to be fixed themselves (unless something sucks about the particular game, but that's another story). However, there are a few gripes we must discuss:
1. It usually cost money: Okay, folks, do you think server fees don't exist? How about the need to pay the staff of whoever made and hosted the game? Or how about the fact that EVERY RETAIL GAME IN EXISTANCE costs money? Yes, subscription fees do prevent a lot of people from playing MMORPGs, but there's a reason behind it.
2. I don't have Internet: If you don't have internet, there's a good chance you're not reading this. NEXT!
3. HACKERS!!!: Yes, they are annoying. And to make it even worse, every time someone implements an anti-hacking program, the bastards find a way around it. So I guess there's no true way to fix this, although there should be attempts to fix this.
Now, what I think:
The biggest thing they should do is NOT require everyone to buy a million add-ons in order to play (this is Everquest's biggest flaw, IMO). Also, they should try to stop hackers.

Addons are pretty cool. I bet they suck to download, yeah, however, it's pretty neat that they can go back and add cooler things to the game and such. It makes the game neato-er.

As for the anti-hacker thing, it has been a constant theme throughout history that offensive military technology is much harder to overcome than defensive technology. Defensive technology just needs one flaw to be exploited to become obsolete. Offensive technology has to be countered at every point to be useless.

Oooh, 984's smart. This is pretty true. And if ya think about it there is no defense that doesn't have a vulnarable spot, no matter how well guarded it might be.

Of course I'm smart. What did you think the 984 was? Some random number? No! It's my IQ! [/obviousbsing]

But, IQ doesn't have anything to do with what you know.

Yeah, well, uh, shut up!

Ok. I mean, NO!

Yes.

Ok. I mean DAMNIT! Get the next reply!

Oh, playing that game are we? Well, I'll thwart you by getting the next Reply! Which is from Igatona.

A big "Hello!" to everyone in MailbagLand, except for the baddies, 'cause you know, evil sucks the big one, but, without evil, the good guys would have nothing to do except play strip poker and eat caik! Caik is good,
And now, the topic of MMORPGs, what do we want to know...how to make them more accessible and innovative. I have no idea.
Well, I do, because that's why I'm writing.
Anyway, we'll have to first realize that there are two kinds of people, those who like MMORPGs, and those who don't. Those who don't are the ones that should be targeted. What puts them off? A recent survey based on a one person answer says that there is too much lamers and that the classes are NEVER balanced, with the usual advantage to mages. Already, by making a balanced class system, which is fun to play as, you get innovation and the countless hordes of people who like to kill stuff with their own hands instead of some stupid fireball.
Next is the system. People are put off by PKing, at least, good roleplayers. Therefore, a system where roleplaying is rewarded instead of being the last one standing would be great.
Lastly, I have lost count of how many people who have said "I'd play it if it wasn't pay to play". Simply make them pay for the starter pack, then don't make them pay at all afterwards except if it's for some big enhancement (like, let's say the introduction of a new world to explore)

I uh, what's PKing?

Player killing, I think. If I'm right, that's when you're an ass and just go kill random people to feel good.

Perhaps. Maybe it's Poopie King! Wouldn't that be cool!? I think that's what MMORPGs need, poopoo!

SG, you boggle the mind. The paying for only big packs rather than monthly sounds like a better idea than just paying for the first package.

And then the poopoo king could be all like -- Oh? Uh yeah that is a good idea, pay for the packs.

Capitalism works. It really does!

I'll believe Megaman984 on that one. Cos I ain't smart. :O Now, who gets the next reply?

It better not be me.

Energon.

Energon.

Energon. Who shall be knocked down.

I think Energon should do it, cos he LOVES the mailbag!

Dumpster.

Right guys?

Awww.... DAMNIT! Fine... Next one up is ClothHat... Stupid me opening my stupid mouth...

It's your friendly neighborhood headgear again, me, ClothHat. I believe the biggest problem with MMORPG's is not the games themselves, but genetic defects you must associate with to play such games. Perhaps a personality test before you are allowed to participate, to ensure you're capable of working with your own species in an online enviroment. Instant failure of the test for things such as: talking in leet, an obsession with the word "fag", killing your team members for fun, or haxzoring. And before you say no company would do that because they want to make money think again. One of the best ways to make people want to do something is to make it seem inaccesible, if gamers are given the impression that only an elite clique is allowed to play, you wont be able to sell the game fast enough for them.

Now THAT is more like the RPGChat Room IQ Test idea.

j0, 1 |_1\/3 |=0|2 +3|-| 1337 +@|_|<Z0|2Z!!!!!!!!11111111

Oh great. SG's brain died.

But that happened like 15 years ago!

1+ |)1|) 1!3|< 0G/\/\

OMG indeed. And since SG's brain died, he can get the next reply.

*Snaps out of it* But It's alive! Look! ...Awww. damnit. Our next reply comes from BahamutXero.

Hey guys, BahamutXero here.
First, I'd like to clarify something I said last mailbag since it has to do with MMORPGs. Yeah, all games get boring after a while but since you have pay for it, you feel obligated to play it, and I don't like that. I don't want to feel that I have to play a game, that's just stupid.
And speaking of stupid, I think it goes without saying the major problem with MMORPGs is the cost of them, so I'm not going to mention it again. Somebody must have no life to pay $120 or more a year to play a game. Either eliminate these charges or change it to something like $20 a year, I'd be happy to pay that. So in case they haven't heard it, this is for those game developers: LOWER THE DAMN PRICE!!!!
The only other thing I can think of that would change and I don't if they can would be speed the games up. Sometimes they get really choppy and slow and that was with a cable modem! I only have a lousy 56K modem with a crappy AOL connection so I don't know how it would run off my computher. If the game quality was better more people would play.
Anyway, see ya next mailbag

Well, if P2P is going to exist, a lower yearly rate would be better than a high monthly rate.

What's P2P?

Pay to play.

Oh, of course. Yeah, I agree. I pretty much agree with all that's said. Hot damn, I can't add a single comment to this one. Very good job!

Very good.

I'm tired...you get the last one.

Fine. It's a doozy, and it's from X. Take it away, X. Not literally, of course.

Obviously.

OK, I shoulda ranted about this last time, but here's another thought I recently had: Why should we PAY, for the "privilage" to play with other humans, almost all of which are, as one online game comidian put it, "Smacktards"? Or for the privilage of being forced to play online, and deal with lag and patches and other related issues? That's my take on why the whole P2P concept (not to be confused by PvP, which by all means I heavily encourage, especially in Battlefield: 1942) is retarding the game industry. Not because I don't wanna shell out money - au contraire, I probably'll be willing to shell out up to 20 bucks a month (once I get on my own and off to college next year, that is) to play, say, Shadowbane, Earth and Beyond, or Parasite: The Second Even, which I discussed last week. I wouldn't mind playing for one, maybe two of those, at a time. But what are we paying for? What do MMORPGs offer that normal RPGs don't? Interaction with humans (again, smacktards) and online gameplay, neither of which entices me any.
Take a lot at The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, a semi-recent and incredibly ambitious PC/XBox RPG that you would think is a MMORPG but is simple-player ONLY. Everything about this game is basically total immersion, the idea behind most MMORPGs. You can create a totally custom character, and take a 100% non-linear course through the world. You can even kill quest-important NPCs, even your BOSS for god's sake. Even God himself (Vivec) is killable (assuming you can get in his room)! Which Dai Ryuujin did. Don't forget to tease him endlessly about his stupidity by saving after killing Vivec. Nice going moron. |-P
But where was I. Ahh yes, Morrowind. So basically, the point I'm trying to make here is that the trend currently is going towards PC games that emulate MMORPGs with a lot less of the nuisances of MMO games. That may or may not cause MMORPGs to either innovate or die...so far the biggest "innovation" in a MMORPG has to be Shadowbane, with Neocron, that new techno Deus Ex-type one everyone's into atm a close second.
All the same, I can think of at least a few issues in most MMORPGs that could use resolving:
1. LAAAAAAG, bitch, Lag. It's bad. It's prevalent. It needs to be stamped out NOW. As John "F is for Frag" Kennedy said, "We must make it our goal...to get a man into a MMORPG with a FPS of 60 or above...and bring him back with a shitload of experience." Following this speech, Blizzard began work on Diablo. *bada-ching* erm, but anyway, whatever the current number of servers used in a given MMORPG is, they should DOUBLE it. These things need POWER. POWER. FOCUS. And all that shit. Which they, I'm sorry but AIN'T GETTING. At least then they'd have an exuse to charge us 20 bucks a month.
2. Monotony. Ragnarok Online (not to be confused with the Ragnarok God Power, or the godalmighty Ragnarok Buster) was especially guilty of this. Either repetitive gameplay, or tedious level ups. Now, consider if you will, the 15% or so of the MMORPG players woh aren't so incredibly devoted that, when they start to get a bit bored with the game, they just close it and, oh, maybe play tomorrow. Then, tomorrow comes, and he doesn't. This goes on, until the player stops playing entirely and cancels his account. I know because it happened to me. Multiply this by several thousand people, and you've lost a significant amount of your income. Read my lips, Game Devs: MAKE THE GAMEPLAY INTERESTING. At least don't have levels of DW proportions.
3. I already touched base on this with the other mailbag, but PvP combat needs to be a bigger part of the game. Introducing Strategy elements goes a long way, as I illustrated with Shadowbane. But there need to be some actual goals in said strategy, to make it real strategic. Simple Fighting isn't good enough. Gaining territory and resources, now yer talking. Your civilization is on the brink of a bloody conflict, and a lot of your soldiers need light armour, and a nearby enemy position has a glass mine, perfect for strong light armour (another contribution of Morrowind: Glass makes great armour. Don't ask why.) But, another nearby enemy position has a gold mine, and can be more easily sieged. Hmm, decisions, decisions...
4. Lotsa character creation. Lots of races, lots of classes, lots of abilities, etc. Seeing 12 different guys all in the same costume because they all chose the same exact class is boring. At the same time, Morrowind-type twinking should be minimized. To counter this, here's how I would handle experience: A Combination of Morrowind and traditional RPGs. You gain experience in combat, like normal. You also gain experience when you level up a skill. The bigger the level up in that skill was, the more exp. you gain. Unlike Morrowind there aren't constant Major/Minor skills; some skills start out higher but noe count more towards exp. than others and none level up faster. This would eliminate the problem of Acrobatics tweaking (people jump to gail levels, like a bunny).
5. Lots of interesting locales, dungeons and the like. Some MMORPGs look preety boring, one place to the next. I'd like to see originality put into design. Not much I can say on this. Just do it...well, I suppose there is one idea; more "Alone time". Quiet, peaceful locations that hopefully won't be swamped by players, that just looks serene. Maybe a place for your character to take a dip (of course, since this is an RPG, the waters heal your character, obviously)
6. Penalty for Death. In a MMORPG focused on conflict, we can't simply keep having you respawn wherever you damn please ala Ragnarok Online, as soon as you die! That would make battles uber-lame; soon as you kill some guy he runs back on the battiefield in ten minutes. Unacceptable. There are a couple ways to deal with this: One. Make death permanent. But then you'll never get people to fight in battles, and that would suck. If they respawned at the nearest held city, that would make more sense, and by the time they got to the battlefield it would already be over. Adding a delay would help ensure that they don't simply run to their demise. Even so, it kinda seems empty: kill someone only to have them return. Especially if you're trying to murder someone. Which brings me to my final thought...
7. CRIME. Let's face it; some modern MMORPGs are, well, chaotic and lawless. Go around and kill other players, it's ok, they'll only die anyway. Morrowind introduced the idea of "law" into a MMORPG; break the law, get caught, get sent to jail. Simple enough. If real PCs were guards it would be even cooler. CSI and Law and Order, meet Ragnarok Online.
That's about all I can think of for now. I wonder if this holds the record for "BIGGEST MUTHATRUCKIN' MAILBAG RESPONSE EV0R". I am the power. Peace. *lays siege to SG's house cuz he refuses to make any MMX3 MIDIs*

Looks like X wrote a frickin' essay. No comments needed on my part.

Well, X. Two things:
1. Your joke was FRICKin' retarded.

2. You have to think about what games can pull all that shit without lag. Seriously there are TONS of great ideas not ever before seen in MMORPGs that are very obvious. Why? Cos they're not the easiest of things to pull off without outrageous system requirements, and then there's lag. All of those combined factors make most of the cool MMORPG ideas un-doable.

Well, that wraps up this Mailbag. Next topic is "What would you add to Strategy RPGs to make them more innovative, or are they already innovative enough?" Send in all Replies to you-know-where. Hopefully Kagon and possibly DG will be here next time.

Yeah, and not that crazy Dragon Cyborg!