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Author Topic: MMO - Most Innovative Feature of 2008  (Read 3041 times)
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Lockdown
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« on: December 04, 2008, 01:01:30 PM »

I was cruising around the internet and ran into this link/question/poll thing.

Link To Explanations

If you don't want to read through the whole thing, the gist of it is they want to know what gamers think is the most innovative feature to hit the MMO genre this year.  The choices they are considering are:

Council of Stellar Management (EVE)
Combo Combat (Age of Conan)
Public Quests (Warhammer Online)
Ship Combat (Pirates of the Burning Sea)


In my personal opinion, I don't think it's an easy choice.  I'd say the "coolest" feature is the way ship combat is done in PotBS.  But I don't know if coolest = most innovative.   

I'm curious what you guys think is the most innovative feature.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2008, 01:03:42 PM by Lockdown » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2008, 01:10:39 PM »

Where's the legendary item system from LOTRO? That's an innovative feature from 2008 that is likely to set its mark on MMORPGs for years to come.
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2008, 01:14:11 PM »

Hmmm.  I don't know, TiLT.  I would imagine it deserves to be considered though, from what I've read about it. 

I may register on that website to see how the public is voting though, cause I'm interested in what people think about this.
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2008, 01:14:47 PM »

In my opinion, the Public Quests - I dont know the shipcombat, but the others I do know about...Age of Conans combat system a very close second though, thats the real seller of the MMO for me.

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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2008, 01:59:57 PM »

The other shoe dropping in AoC (I was probably its last remaining fan here before I returned to LOTRO) is that they're reducing the combo "steps" because clearly the more advanced combos (sometimes requiring 3-4 "nested" steps) were turning into a Rubik's Cube that took too long and were too tricky to use in combat, and people were sticking with the easier-to-trigger early combos.

The fact two of the four games listed have had to do server mergers because of dwindling player populations (AoC, which probably added way too many servers during its furious launch phase; and Pirates) should demonstrate just how little being innovative means in terms of popularity (which is a shame, really). WoW wasn't my cup of tea, but I think it's appealing "comfort food MMO" for most people and that's probably part of the reason why it still has gadzillion players.

While I like LOTRO's legendary item system, it's a little hard to get used to the idea that the last 100 legendary bows I've gotten in loot are basically "junk" that I dismantle (in favor of contining to "grow" the one I've stuck with). If you're used to regular excitement over new loot, it's a little disheartening at first to yawn every time a legendary weapon of your choice pops up. But once you realize how the system works, it's fairly cool. I just don't think it's quite as much fun as adding fire, ice, and lightning damage to bows in Diablo II or Titan Quest (though clearly that's comparing apples to oranges).
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 03:57:56 PM »

I think WoW's seemless zone phasing technique introduced in Wotlk is an innovative feature. I do not follow other MMOs very close nowadays so it might have been done before though. It definately breaks the mold of the 100% static game world. While it is not implemented to a degree that rocks the world, it still is a step up from 100% static world.

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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2008, 04:59:07 PM »

The ship combat in PotBS isn't innovative. It's a simplified version of ship combat from other games with similar combat systems.

I hold three really innovative developments in mmo's this year that will certainly influence others in the future, in no particular order:

Public Quests - Warhammer Online - Fantastic idea, I could see a revised version of this system really taking off in mmo's in the future. The main drawback of the WAR implementation is that a fairly disparate player population post-launch left most of the PQ's in T1 & T2 vacant.

Legendary Weapons - Lord of the Rings Online - Alternate Advancement systems (see Everquest in particular, as well as high-level factions in WoW and LotRO) are generally a great way to extend play value for the playerbase between expansions once they hit a game's progression cap. The Legendary Weapon system of LotRO is another twist on the Alternate Advancement system, and quite frankly a brilliant one. Who doesn't want the chance to build up their own customized weapon with its own "personality" for their hero?

World Phasing - World of Warcraft - The classic MMO dilemma: how to give players the sense of making a real mark on the gameworld, or at least have quests give a lasting impact. World phasing allows this to happen on a per-player basis, giving a nice compromise solution to the problem and opening up a lot of opportunities for truly engaging gameplay for mmo players.
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2008, 05:37:27 PM »

I second the "World Phasing" of WoW. There's several quest chains that use it and its pretty cool. The best is the beginning Death Knight stuff. The best questing in an MMO yet.
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2008, 06:59:44 PM »

Quote from: Farscry on December 04, 2008, 04:59:07 PM

The ship combat in PotBS isn't innovative. It's a simplified version of ship combat from other games with similar combat systems.

I hold three really innovative developments in mmo's this year that will certainly influence others in the future, in no particular order:

Public Quests - Warhammer Online - Fantastic idea, I could see a revised version of this system really taking off in mmo's in the future. The main drawback of the WAR implementation is that a fairly disparate player population post-launch left most of the PQ's in T1 & T2 vacant.

Legendary Weapons - Lord of the Rings Online - Alternate Advancement systems (see Everquest in particular, as well as high-level factions in WoW and LotRO) are generally a great way to extend play value for the playerbase between expansions once they hit a game's progression cap. The Legendary Weapon system of LotRO is another twist on the Alternate Advancement system, and quite frankly a brilliant one. Who doesn't want the chance to build up their own customized weapon with its own "personality" for their hero?

World Phasing - World of Warcraft - The classic MMO dilemma: how to give players the sense of making a real mark on the gameworld, or at least have quests give a lasting impact. World phasing allows this to happen on a per-player basis, giving a nice compromise solution to the problem and opening up a lot of opportunities for truly engaging gameplay for mmo players.

I totally agree.  I'll just add one:

Open grouping - Warhammer Online - I'm not sure if this had been done before, but it was new to me.  As a player, you could go into an area and find groups that were "open" that may be doing quests, RvR, PvE instances or Public Quests.  It greatly reduced the "LFG - Elite Foozle Quest" type spamming.

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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2008, 07:04:33 PM »

Can someone further explain (or provide a link for) the World Phasing in WoW?  The number one drawback I've always felt in MMO's was after saving a farm from being over run with boars.... it's still over run with boars.  This sounds like a step towards allowing some real advancement in the genre.
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2008, 07:52:05 PM »

Quote from: Farscry on December 04, 2008, 04:59:07 PM

The ship combat in PotBS isn't innovative. It's a simplified version of ship combat from other games with similar combat systems.

Nice post, Farscry.  But I don't understand this part.  I don't know of any other MMO that does anything even remotely close to what PotBS has done with ship combat.  The only other MMO I know of that has ship combat is EVE, and it it has no wind nor weapon arcs.  Are you referring to Jumpgate maybe?  If so, I definately need to check it out.



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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2008, 09:34:17 PM »

Quote from: Jumangi on December 04, 2008, 05:37:27 PM

I second the "World Phasing" of WoW. There's several quest chains that use it and its pretty cool. The best is the beginning Death Knight stuff. The best questing in an MMO yet.

I'll second the phasing. It takes alot of the static out of the world.

The problem with discussing phasing is that it spoils the story.

Here is one example I saw last night that i'll try and make generic:

Spoiler for Hiden:
I was questing in an undead area. The entire area was swarming with them, including an undead citadel. After a series of quests with a quest giver hidden in the nearby mountains, we took over the area and the entire area changed into a friendly hub. The landscape was the same, but the citadel was now our stronghold and some of the bad guys I fought had, um, forcibly changed sides (through some other quests i did) and were now friendly to me. (they were gone from where I had fought them)

The best example of phasing (and the biggest spoiler of wow) was a story arc that started with a series of quests and ended with an in-game custscene with the results of that cutscene being the new environment you were in.
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2008, 10:29:00 PM »

I've never even played LotRO, but the legendary item system is brilliant. WoW's phasing system is cool, and certainly innovative. The only other one of those I've tried is PotBS ship combat, which isn't particularly innovative and gets kind of boring after a while. The 40 ship battles were pretty cool, though.
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2008, 03:09:28 AM »

Quote from: Lockdown on December 04, 2008, 07:52:05 PM

Quote from: Farscry on December 04, 2008, 04:59:07 PM

The ship combat in PotBS isn't innovative. It's a simplified version of ship combat from other games with similar combat systems.

Nice post, Farscry.  But I don't understand this part.  I don't know of any other MMO that does anything even remotely close to what PotBS has done with ship combat.  The only other MMO I know of that has ship combat is EVE, and it it has no wind nor weapon arcs.  Are you referring to Jumpgate maybe?  If so, I definately need to check it out.

I just mean that, while it may be new for an mmo, it's not new to games. That'd be like calling Tabula Rasa (or Planetside) innovative for having FPS combat, when there's definitely been FPS combat in non-mmo games before. icon_biggrin

For example, some games with (much deeper and more interesting) combat systems like PotBS are games like the Starfleet Command series and the Age of Sail games.

Jumpgate, which I'm frothing at the mouth for, is more like X-Wing/TIE Fighter/Wing Commander in mmo form: action space combat sim. I wouldn't call that innovative either, but it is relatively new mmo territory and I'm excited for it.
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2008, 12:15:39 PM »

Gotcha.  Now I get what you're sayin'.

I need to read up more on this phase thing these WoW people are talking about.  I don't think I fully understand what it is.
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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2008, 01:23:26 PM »

Quote from: Lockdown on December 05, 2008, 12:15:39 PM

Gotcha.  Now I get what you're sayin'.

I need to read up more on this phase thing these WoW people are talking about.  I don't think I fully understand what it is.

Basically they have two "zones" on top of each other and you can only be present in one of them (based on your quest progress). By zones I just mean areas, not actually zones that require loading (i.e. the transition is seamless). If you were in a group with someone and they had not done the questline that triggered the phasing and you had, when you both entered the area, they would vanish from your sight and you from theirs (this is what I was told, have not actually tested it out). The primary terrain does not change, but so far I have seen NPCs and objects like buildings/trees etc be phased in/out as well as effects like fire/smoke.
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2008, 02:33:45 PM »

IMO WoW Phasing is not that different from what's been done in LoTRO at launch, where one would start in a human village, do some quests, see some bad guys' invasion and find the village completely destroyed (houses destroyed, some NPCs killed, some new ones appeared, etc.).

The only difference is that in LoTRO all that required loading, while in WoW it is seemless. As a tradeoff, the changes between the "phases" in WoW are not that drastic.

If anything, WoW just improved an innovative idea initially implemented by LoTRO. And as usual, WoW does a great job improving other people's ideas and gets the credit for inventing it. smile
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2008, 03:21:28 PM »

Quote from: Farscry on December 05, 2008, 03:09:28 AM

Jumpgate, which I'm frothing at the mouth for, is more like X-Wing/TIE Fighter/Wing Commander in mmo form: action space combat sim. I wouldn't call that innovative either, but it is relatively new mmo territory and I'm excited for it.

I wonder if this is similar to what Star Wars Galaxies did when they added space combat to that MMO?  I don't know if it was well recieved, but I always thought it was really, really fun.  If it's like that or better, I'm totally in.

Anyone have access to the poll results over on that website?  I'm curious what is winning.  (edit: maybe they announce the results later?)
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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2008, 04:18:26 PM »

Gaming history is pretty littered with devs doing something innovative in a game that doesn't become a monster success (see Mouse-Look in Bethesda's Terminator Future Shock), that someone else picks up and brings to the Masses (most associate the feature with Id's 900-lb. gorilla Quake).

I played and enjoyed Auto Assault to some extent, but I remain unconvinced that the MMO Masses can become attached enough to inanimate objects enough to want to pay monthly fees to do so. Eve's relatively solid, long-term success notwithstanding, the MMO Graveyard (and the "niche game with few subscribers" yard) is growing full of such games, and Pirates is not really getting anywhere in terms of subscribers - though really I do want to finally play my POTBS copy some day, once they revamp the avatar combat.

I'd love for Jumpgate Evolution and Star Trek Online (the latter maybe having a chance since the avatar adventures play as big a role as the ship-to-ship stuff) to prove me wrong.  icon_smile OTOH, hyping those titles as "From the makers of Auto Assault!" [Netdevil, which is doing JE], and "From maybe 3 members of the City of Heroes team and a bunch of other devs, and now BilL Roper!" [Cryptic, most of whose City of Heroes devs chose to switch to NCSoft's new studio for COH] doesn't necessarily install confidence.  icon_neutral
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2008, 04:55:16 PM »

Quote from: StriderGG on December 05, 2008, 02:33:45 PM

IMO WoW Phasing is not that different from what's been done in LoTRO at launch, where one would start in a human village, do some quests, see some bad guys' invasion and find the village completely destroyed (houses destroyed, some NPCs killed, some new ones appeared, etc.).

The only difference is that in LoTRO all that required loading, while in WoW it is seemless. As a tradeoff, the changes between the "phases" in WoW are not that drastic.

If anything, WoW just improved an innovative idea initially implemented by LoTRO. And as usual, WoW does a great job improving other people's ideas and gets the credit for inventing it. smile

I consider the seamless part of it the real innovation because that requires a lot more work than just building a second, entirely seperate, zone ala LotrO.
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« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2008, 05:05:05 PM »

Quote from: Toe on December 05, 2008, 04:55:16 PM

Quote from: StriderGG on December 05, 2008, 02:33:45 PM

IMO WoW Phasing is not that different from what's been done in LoTRO at launch, where one would start in a human village, do some quests, see some bad guys' invasion and find the village completely destroyed (houses destroyed, some NPCs killed, some new ones appeared, etc.).

The only difference is that in LoTRO all that required loading, while in WoW it is seemless. As a tradeoff, the changes between the "phases" in WoW are not that drastic.

If anything, WoW just improved an innovative idea initially implemented by LoTRO. And as usual, WoW does a great job improving other people's ideas and gets the credit for inventing it. smile

I consider the seamless part of it the real innovation because that requires a lot more work than just building a second, entirely seperate, zone ala LotrO.

Yup, same here. Also, in LotRO, it was limited primarily to the intro. In WoW, they're doing this mid-stream and making it work amongst players at different stages of the quests. I could group up with a buddy, run some quests, then go do stuff in my version of an area while he's doing stuff in his version, then resume grouping up with him after. In LotRO you've basically got the first zone which is locked off for newbies to run around in, then when they finish they're in the "real" gameworld. It's completely linear and locked apart.

Don't mistake me; I'm not ripping on LotRO (I love that game!) so much as point out that what they did was very simplistic compared to what Blizzard has done to evolve the idea. smile
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« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2008, 05:10:56 PM »

In Everquest 2, some quests change your perception.  So I had to collect plants for a researcher, he then dumps the plants on the table.  I see the plants on the table now every time I visit him, where as someone that has not completed the quest will not see anything on the table.

Not quite the same thing, but it is a way of making one feel like they are changing the environment - if every so slightly smile
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« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2008, 06:15:52 PM »

Quote from: Farscry on December 05, 2008, 05:05:05 PM

Quote from: Toe on December 05, 2008, 04:55:16 PM

Quote from: StriderGG on December 05, 2008, 02:33:45 PM

IMO WoW Phasing is not that different from what's been done in LoTRO at launch, where one would start in a human village, do some quests, see some bad guys' invasion and find the village completely destroyed (houses destroyed, some NPCs killed, some new ones appeared, etc.).

The only difference is that in LoTRO all that required loading, while in WoW it is seemless. As a tradeoff, the changes between the "phases" in WoW are not that drastic.

If anything, WoW just improved an innovative idea initially implemented by LoTRO. And as usual, WoW does a great job improving other people's ideas and gets the credit for inventing it. smile

I consider the seamless part of it the real innovation because that requires a lot more work than just building a second, entirely seperate, zone ala LotrO.
Don't mistake me; I'm not ripping on LotRO (I love that game!) so much as point out that what they did was very simplistic compared to what Blizzard has done to evolve the idea. smile

Sorry, I just do not see that at all. The idea of having an impact in a MMOL setting has been around, well, as long as MMOL games have been around. Lotro's take on it was to build a new zone and basically flag you so that when you re-enter it, it is a different zone. Blizzard's take on it involves using the same underlying terrain and tricking the clients into rendering what they are flagged to render (i.e. phasing, which is not present at all in lotro). From a bird's eye view, yeah, they are both meant to let the players feel like they are having an impact on a normally static environment, but I see nothing that was "borrowed" or "evolved" from Lotro in Blizzard implementation since the concept has been around from the start.

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« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2008, 09:12:59 PM »

The difference is that LotRO's method is the same method utilized in single player games like Fable 2, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, etc. Any game with time travel in it, really.

WoW's method is an implementation that's specifically and exclusively useful to an mmo setting, using phasing to have separate "layers" of a region running concurrently. For instance, when they first started it for the Ba'Shir Landing in the Sunwell update to the burning crusade, when you were in either the "shadow realm" or the normal version of the region, you could actually see spells of players going off in the other phase of the region. So these aren't two separately loaded and discrete zones like pre- and post-attack Archet in LotRO or pre- and post-SPOILER in Fable 2, these are two simultaneous phases of one region layered together that players may or may not be interacting with each other while adventuring in (depending on the type of differences you want implemented).

That's why I call it a true innovation: the way Blizzard has implemented it, not the concept itself. It's a totally new way of handling different versions of one gamespace that hasn't been done before. smile
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« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2008, 10:44:03 PM »

None of the above.

Tome of Knowledge in WAR takes the cake.
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« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2008, 12:03:11 AM »

I LOVE the tome of knowledge! icon_biggrin
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« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2008, 11:40:11 PM »

For next year, if it's implemented properly, the new Mission Architect feature -- including creating your own NPCs -- for City of Heroes should be pretty high on the Innovative Feature list. The question's gonna be whether any players' creations are actually worth playing or not. icon_neutral And whether they can prevent all the attempts at cheesy exp exploitation of the feature -- that'll be a game in itself. icon_razz

Here's the Issue 14: Architect overview, fwiw: (skimpy)
http://www.cityofheroes.com/news/game_updates/issue_14/issue_14_overview.html

A little more detail by Positron here:
http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=11778121&an=0&page=0#Post11778121

I am of course ensconsced in LOTRO for the forseeable future, but if anything could draw me back, the Architect might. icon_smile
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« Reply #27 on: December 26, 2008, 06:22:55 PM »

I don't really agree with some of its proclamations, but Gamasutra had an interesting...

Gamasutra's Best of 2008: The 5 Most Significant MMO Trends
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21613
Quote
Burning Crusade may have offered entry-level content more appropriate for a new player, but Wrath of the Lich King has given new players an actual reason to play: high-end content of a quality previously unseen in the MMO space.

Successful expansions for both Lord of the Rings Online and EverQuest II are also well worth noting, as these high-quality games reinvigorate their own dedicated playerbases. Their internal success only serves to highlight the stark reality 2008 has borne out: the AAA fantasy MMO is a solved problem.

The inn is full, there are no seats left at the table, the plane door is closing... whatever metaphor you want to use, AAA fantasy games are a niche in the games industry that is now nearly impossible to enter. Existing market players (Blizzard or otherwise) are going to continue to have a high rate of success with retaining and pleasing their users, while new entrants onto the scene are going to face nigh-onto insurmountable odds.

My take is there's room in the MMO market to steal people's attention for a little while (as AoC did all too briefly, and Warhammer seemed to do before the WoW expansion released). The hard part is delivering on all the pre-launch hype, and then retaining MMO players' attention for any extended period of time when most of us run lemming-like to the Latest and Greatest Thing on the Horizon.

I'm kinda doubting you'll see anyone else sink the amount of money Funcom did into AoC in a futile effort to catch WoW. I know publishers in a bad economy talk about sticking with what works, but I can't see profit in just doing what others are doing, knowing that won't be enough to peel MMO gamers away from their favorites.

Maybe the future might be smaller dev teams trying to carve out some semi-profitable niches in more original environments, rather than a huge dev team spending millions on something that needs a zillion subscribers to even break even and isn't all that different from the established MMO franchises. And who knows? Maybe that'll be a good thing - maybe some smaller teams will go after more innovative features, and give this thread more things to talk about.  icon_smile
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« Reply #28 on: December 26, 2008, 07:58:55 PM »

OK, a bit off topic, but since WoW was mentioned:

If Blizzard is approaching 12 million subscribers...

How much net income per month would you guess that is?  What is it gross - Somewhere between 100-150 million bucks a month probably?

How much of that is net profit?  Anyone in the industry want to offer up a guess?  I certainly don't know what overhead is on a game like WoW, but I'd have to imagine they are making serious bank each and every month.


 
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« Reply #29 on: December 26, 2008, 09:31:24 PM »

It has cost Blizzard $200 million since WoW launched... that's upkeep, and not dev costs, so it's not the complete picture.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2008/09/how_much_has_wow_cost_blizzard_since_2004-2.html
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« Reply #30 on: December 26, 2008, 11:59:53 PM »

Quote from: Laner on December 26, 2008, 09:31:24 PM

It has cost Blizzard $200 million since WoW launched... that's upkeep, and not dev costs, so it's not the complete picture.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2008/09/how_much_has_wow_cost_blizzard_since_2004-2.html

Dear lord. That's IT? Considering that they're making somewhere in the range of $82.5 to $165 MILLION a month (based on 11 million subscribers, using somewhere between $7.50 to $15 a month in subscription fees based on the global economy and how some places are far cheaper), that truly is pocket change. Oh, and don't forget the bare minimum of 11 million copies of the original game sold, along with two expansions.
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« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2008, 09:41:34 PM »

1. WAR - open parties/warbands.  Never again do you need to spam LFG or use cumbersome search tools.  Just look for what parties are available in the region and hit join.  For those not familiar, you basically hit a button which shows all the open parties and warbands in the zone, what type of activity they are doing and how far away they are.  You then hit join and you are part of that party/warband.  I have never seen a better/quicker way to find a group implemented in any other MMO.

2. AoC - non targeted combat.  I don't know if the combo system is all that innovative but I like that when I swing my weapon near something that should be hit, it gets hit.  I like how they make combat "feel" more realtime and that global cooldowns are not too intrusive.
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