BioWare disappointed by “lack of fun” in current MMOs

Friday, 28th May 2010 20:10 GMT By Stephany Nunneley


BioWare designer and writing director, Daniel Erickson, has said that most MMOs on offer today are lacking in the fun department, and this is something that the firm hopes to change with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Speaking with CVG, Erickson said when MMOs were first announced he was expecting “giant role-playing games” and quickly found that most were not.

“In the early days when they first announced that there were MMOs, like the existence of them, I knew in my head what that meant – because I played role-playing games, i was just giant Role Playing Games,” he said. And then MMOs showed up, and it wasn’t that.

“It was the ruleset to an RPG: There was combat, and there were areas, but that was all. Someone had left out the module. There was no story, there was no point. You just kind of wandered around, and that hasn’t really changed all that much over the years.

“We’ve always had that thought in the back of our heads: That Old Republic should be all the things we thought an MMO would be in the first place – which is all the parts of an RPG. Which means – and this is the most radical idea – it should just be fun. Like, just fun to play. You shouldn’t be trying to ignore all of the content to get to the end as fast as possible.”

Erickson goes on to say that with SWTOR, BioWare wanted to give the genre a shot in the arm by not focusing so much on grinding like a lot of MMOs do, and by not setting any limitations on what could be done with it.

“I don’t think that [MMO creators] set out in the beginning to say: ‘Hey, let’s make this a grind. Let’s not have any interesting content here’”, he said. “A lot of the better ones more recently have interesting content for the first few levels, you know – and some of them for the first 20 levels, whatever. But it’s still not the interesting content you’d expect in a single-player game.

“The thing that has been a challenge for us on Old Republic is that people tried to convince us these limitations were canon – that they were to be respected, you know? That you could not, in fact, put interesting bits in an MMO because that was now sacrilege.”

SWTOR is expected sometime in spring 2011, and Companions for the game were revealed yesterday through an interview with IGN, followed by a formal reveal in the official site today.



  1. Gekidami

    Plenty of MMO’s have tried to incorporate a more story driven experience, and they’ve all fell flat on their faces because of it. When people play MMO’s they want to be a part of a world, not be the center of it.

    “I don’t think that [MMO creators] set out in the beginning to say: ‘Hey, let’s make this a grind’”

    How wrong you are Mr. BioWare guy.

    #1 5 years ago
  2. Erthazus

    @1 + 1000

    Absolutely agree with you.

    And MMORPG don’t need story by the end of the day. People still going to farm everything. Thats the reason behind MMORPG even if you like to live in the virtual world.

    I like World Of Warcraft because of it’s lore and world but still can’t just walk around for more then 5 minutes doing nothing. I need to do quests and farm for better gear. IMHO.

    #2 5 years ago
  3. DeSpiritusBellum

    The problem with MMO’s is the Massively Multiplayer aspect. Every change you make it is going to have insanely major implications.

    That’s obviously why most MMOs center around mostly menial tasks repeated ad nauseam. They simply can’t do any better without screwing the whole thing up.

    That being said, once MMOs get to a point where they go beyond menial chores, I think it’s going to become an even bigger monster than it is today.

    #3 5 years ago
  4. revolting

    I like where the guy is going, and while I agree with him that more story-driven content may help to break the monotony of the soul-destroying grindathon, I think he kind of missed the point a little bit. The early generation of MMORPGs (ie. Meridian 59 and UO) had no grand story to tell because they had a much grander vision: the players were the story. The players lived, breathed, and created the story with every interaction they made with each other and with the world, unbound by a pre-determined script and free to create whatever lore and history grew naturally out of the natural course of events. Surely that kind of player driven story is much closer to the traditional role-playing experience he yearns for than having a story trust upon you by npcs who don’t give two hoots if you call their mother a goblin-lover in the chat box? These days the only real example of entirely player-driven story is EVE… all others tend to flail about halfway between storytelling and player empowering, and consequently fall flat on both counts.

    That said, I’m really looking forward to TOR (and Guildwars 2, also story-driven) a lot, and if they can pull of the story telling part while also keeping the living, breathing player’s world alive, so much the better. I have no idea how they’re going to pull it off, though, because obviously the more prominent the scripted plot is, the less room players have to role-play their own stories into existance.

    Maybe that’s the difference between an MMO and an MMORPG. The RPG part off the acronym tends to get left off these days, more and more so even by games that purport to be RPGs. More’s the pitty.

    #4 5 years ago
  5. Erthazus

    @4 Guild Wars 2 is story driven? Really? I’m looking forward to it, but i don’t think so that it is story driven game.

    On topic, i think we all miss one thing, that gameplay in MMOS is not perfect so i think we are not at the stage where we need a lot of story in MMORPG.
    Gameplay still is not perfect compared to other singleplayer retail games and thats what games need to do for now and only then, they need to look about decent story.

    #5 5 years ago
  6. Gekidami

    The first GW was story driven so i dont see why the second wont be.
    GW is a special case though, the first one WASNT AN MMO and whilst the second one sounds more like one (though i dont think we’ve been told the amount of players that can be in server yet) i’m guessing it’ll work more as a coop open world game then anything else.

    #6 5 years ago
  7. revolting

    @5 I guess you haven’t seen the recent torrent of updates and interviews about dynamic events and personal story lines, then.

    #7 5 years ago
  8. Stephany Nunneley

    I just don’t want MMOs to get all complicated. There are enough spells, bags, moves, mounts, crafting, and pets and their subsequent mechanics as it is without getting too complicated on changing the dynamic of the story for you, and all that.

    I love BioWare games, and I love how into this the folks there are and I really want to play SWTOR like there’s no tomorrow – however, (and I feel embarrassed to say this)I found Dragon Age to be a bit complicated – trying to keep up with everyone in my party and making sure they were doing their job etc.

    I don’t want that in an MMO – you have enough “real” people in your party playing characters that will impact your battle as it is – maybe not so much story – but they impact the experience enough as it is – especially if they don’t know how the hell to work their class.

    #8 5 years ago
  9. Erthazus

    @5 Can you link these interviews please? I missed them i guess. =\

    @8 Absolutely agree.

    BTW, Dragon Age is not complicated, it’s just Bioware did not worked well with the party system. If you ever played NeverWinter Nights 1 game – Brilliant piece of RPG art or the best RPG Evar. It is not complicated at all.

    #9 5 years ago
  10. Grimrita

    You know, I didnt really give a rats ass about story in MMOs, especially SWTOR but after getting some hands on time with it at the EA Press event earlier this month, it was rather engaging.

    I found it cool how the NPCs responded to your choices made and was taken in by the whole experience. I’m sold and it makes a change for me, to have a break from the endless grinding!

    #10 5 years ago
  11. DarkElfa

    I play Fallen Earth and its plenty of fun.

    #11 5 years ago

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