Is Pantheon being designed for Sustainability?

Nephele

Administrator
Staff member
One of my biggest complaints about most MMORPGs and their developers is that they incorporate design decisions that are short-sighted and end up harming the game in the long run. When you're making a persistent online world, one of your goals should be for it to be something that can last and continue to draw in new players for many years after it has launched. However, so many teams have intentionally made choices that result in their game worlds becoming less and less appealing, or harder to get into for new players over time. Whether it's setting up their economy so that players joining the game later have to grind a bunch of cash before they can participate, or setting up their content so that players joining later feel compelled to rush through things and try to catch up to everyone else, or even just setting up systems such as name uniqueness or housing so that players who join later are penalized and less able to get invested in the game and the world, this seems to keep happening in game after game after game.

It might be tempting to claim that the advancement of graphics technology means that MMORPGs have a limited lifespan in terms of appeal, but the last 10 years of the industry fly in the face of that assumption. Players value gameplay just as much as they value visuals. Some of the most popular MMOs are games that have been around 10 or more years. Some of the rogue servers out there for "dead" games like City of Heroes or Star Wars: Galaxies are drawing in new players consistently - people that never had the chance to play those games when they were originally available. This isn't just a nostalgia thing - it's proof that virtual worlds *can* last and continue to entice players for years after their creation.

Most of the time, I think Pantheon is making decisions that are good for sustainability. For example, we learned recently that the team took tester feedback to heart and is expanding the scope and scale of the zones in the game. That's important. Bigger zones will add to replay value, giving players more to discover whether they're new or old. They'll give players more reason to come back to old areas instead of just completing things and moving on. But that's only one small aspect, and sometimes I hear Pantheon's supporter community talking about things that get me worried. For example, there are a number of supporters that favor a centralized auction house implementation - and that's one that will disproportionally favor people who start the game on Day 1 vs. people who start the game a few years later. Imagine joining a game you've heard about only to find out that you can't actually afford to buy anything without grinding cash for days, and that no one wants anything you actually make or obtain as a new player? Likewise, a lot of community members are fixated on having name uniqueness only determined by the character's first name (there can only be one "Nephele" on a server, and anyone else has to spell it differently). How many of you out there have tried joining a game years after launch and spent potentially hours trying to get any character name that you like because they're all taken - only to end up with something that's unpronounceable or that no one can actually type correctly? Do we really want to put new players through these kinds of frustrations just because they weren't around at the beginning?

I think it's very important that every design decision in Pantheon be thought through carefully. Ideally, we should want new players to be joining the game 3 or 5 or 8 years after it's launch. We want them to be able to get hooked, and get invested in the world, without feeling like they have to fight against "veteran" players or climb a ladder before they can really play - because new players help keep the game running and growing for everyone. This isn't just about content either, but it includes the economy, character creation and naming, and even the user interface. The bottom line is that if we want Pantheon to succeed long term, it needs to be easy for people who weren't there at launch to jump into it later, with a level playing field, and they need to be able to have just as meaningful and compelling of an experience as those Day 1 veterans did. They shouldn't be at a disadvantage just because they came later.
 

Autherial

Apprentice
Staff member
Staff Writer
I agree with everything you said, look how popular wow still is and especially FFXIV which I have been playing lately. All outdated graphics but the gameplay mechanics are great. I think if you have a central AH the prices should have a cap, and not change. You can have a mentor program like many others do to help newer players etc. Build a good foundation with interesting zones and good lore/storyline with fun classes to play and the game will be popular for years.
 
Top