This morning is going to be pure hell on wheels for me. Not only is this my last day before our vacation… but also about 10:30 last night I got a nasty surprise when I checked work email. Apparently there is a big impromptu meeting going on today, at which I have to represent the department and speak intelligibly about everything we do. How do you cram a million things into a quick talk that doesn’t bore all the non-technical people. Also as a result I had to scramble around the house to find a pair of slacks that actually fits me. Dropping 8-10 pants sizes in a few months tends to deplete the stock of clothing you don’t wear often.
Basically this morning I need to bang out this post as soon as possible so I can get into work and prepare for the event. As a result I got up and around this morning at 5 am rather than my normal 5:30… here is hoping the time can be spent wisely. I would normally just skip posting on a morning like this… but I am afraid that if I skip a day my routine will unravel and usher in yet another one of my 4-6 month lapses in posting.
Other MMO Wants
On Monday I made my Ten MMO Must Haves post and it kind blew up… as in it seemed to get far more traction than most of my posts do. The only bad thing about it all… is as soon as I posted I thought of a few more items that I should have put on the list. Listing Beards in the final slot was maybe not the most well thought out thing I have ever done… but in reality it is a metaphor. Every player I know has one feature that they look for in the character creator. My friend for example is always hunting for actual blonde hair… instead of the orange mess that most MMOs have. That is one of the most important things to her, and just like me and beards… if it is not there she does not feel as close to the character. Here goes a quick stab at the rest of a list.
1 – Mentoring
This one is huge, and I have no clue why I left it off the list. I did the list as a whole on the fly Monday morning as I thought of things that I really want in every MMO. Essentially those who are not familiar with the term, it is the practice of allowing higher level players to drop down to the same level as lower level characters. The first game I ever experienced in was City of Heroes… and I felt it was absolutely revolutionary. Eventually Everquest 2 added it in, and now Rift and Guild Wars 2 also have similar systems that have improved upon the base concept. Essentially I want a way to be able to play with my friends… no matter how high above them I am. I have a mantra that “anything that keeps you from playing with your friends is bad”.
2 – Single Server / Cross Server Architecture
Back to the mantra of “anything that keeps you from playing with your friends is bad”.. the traditional server structure is way too restricting. If you have a small group of friends that all organize at exactly the same time… and pick one server ahead of time.. it is no big deal. However if you have many different pools of friends, that you feel constantly torn between.. servers are pure hell. This is the case with me… at any given point I have groups of friends playing a dozen or more games and on each roughly a half dozen different servers. I have to unfairly pick and choose between who I play with. Stop making me choose. Let players communicate and group freely with any player who is playing your game.
3 – Single Account ID
This one has been massively controversial, but I have warmed to it over time. If you scroll back far enough, there are even posts of me rallying against RealID, but again I got used to it. The thing I want is the ability to create a single account id, like the later BattleTag system that is not connected to your real world identity. Then let me choose which players to give that ID out to… and in doing so they magically get to see every character I have regardless of where I am playing. Additionally it would be amazing if the system also allowed for friending single character names… for those individuals you need to have communication with… but don’t want to give them everything. It is such a pain in the but to send your friends a long list of a dozen alts for them to add to their friends list each time someone new joins the game.
4 – Multiple Paths of Advancement / Endgame
The answer to the endgame should not always be Raid or PVP. There should be something else… something a player who does not have the time to raid, or does not have the penchant for pvp can do to constantly better their character in game. This could be something like the Alternate Advancement and Planar Advancement systems in Everquest 2 and Rift… or could be a series of epic quests that allow your character to obtain very slowly raid like gear like TSW has implemented. There needs to be a way for players to feel like they are constantly evolving their characters. It is when characters start to feel stagnant that players lose interest with a game and leave. Help me not get bored with your game, by giving me lots of things to do when I hit maximum level. Daily Quests are fine… but they are not a solution to anything.
5 – Alternate Leveling Paths
This is something that has mutated over the years, and I really wish there was a way to undo it. When Everquest launched it had a distinct leveling path for each race in the game. While some of them quickly merged together once you hit the second or third zone… they still started out as unique experiences. When World of Warcraft launched, you had roughly three leveling tracks per race… and this still ended up giving you a fresh way to level your alts. Now in games like Rift and SWTOR… there is a single track for every member of a faction… and as a result by the time you level your alts… you have nothing really to look forward to. Give us multiple ways to get to the end of your game… do not penalize players for wanting to jump around and try new content paths. I realize multiple paths of content takes more development time… but it also improves the quality of your game for players in the long run and makes alting far more sticky.
6 – No Faction Wall
This is a concept that needs die in a huge inferno. This is without a doubt probably the worst seemingly permanent lineage of World of Warcraft. The concept of setting up a red and a blue faction that are diametrically opposed and can in no way communicate is just a shitty way to create a game. Again back to the mantra of… “anything that keeps you from playing with your friends is bad”. If your friend has to sacrifice what he wants to play… for the greater good.. he will always regret at least somewhat the path not taken. Additionally it is very easy for two friends who joined the game at different times to end up on opposite sides of the battle field.
Everquest and Everquest 2 had the best faction systems in the game… in that no only could you communicate with any player freely, but if you so chose to… and with copious amounts of work.. you could raise your faction and be able to function as a member of those societies. Additionally in Everquest 2 they gave the option of betraying your faction through a serious of quests and permanently changing your allegiance. Faction Walls are just a non-creative solution to the problem of setting up PVP. Rift probably did the best decision it ever did when it released the “Faction as Fiction” patch, making it so that both Defiant and Guardian could group, communicate, and guild freely. Additionally they set up 3 new factions that were not connected to either of the original… which recruit players to fight battles for them. This gave you three way pvp without having to make life restricting to your players.
This one is going to be extra short today. I’ve spent thirty minutes digging into six more items on the cutting room floor that MMOs should have. I need to finish getting ready and get into work so I can prep for the event. I hope you all have a great day, and maybe this will jiggle loose some other ideas you have about what a “best of breed” MMO needs to have. Tomorrow I am off, so my intent is to try and finish up the second part of the “How To Rift” series.