MMO's and Reused Textures

When we play MMORPG's, we are looking for constantly added content. We are not looking for just random changes to occur, but real content that adds variation to the game. This is especially important with games where leveling up takes a considerable amount of time, but even if you are stuck in end game content, it is favorable to get tons of new things to do. Fighting the same enemies (whether it just be grinding them for items or gold or doing the same dungeons and raids over and over) gets boring. After all, once the tactics of the mobs and bosses are learned, the game no longer has any challenge. At some point you end up to where you can practically sleep while doing the hardest content, and still clear it out with no problems. While the strategies often change, there is as (often times even more important) aspect that is less likely to: the look of enemies.

As we play through games, one thing often stands true: we see the same enemies over and over. Sometimes this is with small changes, such as increasing their size or changing their colors. Other times we fight the same exact enemies again and again (a case that sticks out pretty well here is with Atrophinius in the game Rift, where you face him many different times). This does lead to some familiar territory, making the content easier to go through, but at the same time it also ends up hitting the point where it is redundant. You can only look at the same enemies so many times before they are more annoying than entertaining. We do not play games to do the same thing over and over… we play them to progress and experience new things.

The fact that games keep recycling old content, especially when they try to declare the recycled content as “new” content, gets annoying. I could completely understand saying that we will be facing familiar territory but with a new twist. Claiming that there is new content, though, is a bit of a stretch when the only things that are new are slight modifications or the addition of a new mechanic or something. It has gotten to the point where when a game releases a new patch, we can already assume that there is no truly new content. This is far from what it should be like. We should go in with the expectation that we are getting tons of new things that are both fresh and exciting. We should not be surprised when something new does come out.

So why does this recycled content even occur in the first place? That is actually something that I believe can be fixed. The reason behind it is that creating new models, getting them optimized, animating them and getting them in to the game is a lot harder than just making a copy of an existing one and making minor changes. This is especially true with things like animations, where you can simply use the old animation on the slightly modified model and still make it work. Doing all of this work over and over with new characters would take time and effort, and for some reason most developers do not seem to want to do it. The solution here seems pretty easy: hire more modelers or animators (whichever one the company still needs in order to get things going better). Most of the bigger MMO's are highly profitable, so it is not an income concern that keeps them from doing this. And even if it were, I would think that the massive influx of players (due to having a game where new content is truly new content) would more than make up for the expanded costs.

At this point I think all we can really do is sit back and hope that at some point, a game developer takes the initiative and starts really setting the bar for future developers. If most developers kept new content coming in on a regular basis, others would have to follow suit or they would lose their player base. This would completely change both the way MMO's are handled and how we, as players view the games. I really can not see the down side to doing it, and I think that it is the next step towards truly making games more enjoyable.


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