This morning I got up roughly 15 minutes before the alarm went off… and decided to that rather than be groggy later… I would go ahead and get up and around. Right now I am kind of questioning that decision, since the bed seems like a really amazing idea. I had a really spastic yesterday as I never could really decide on a game to play. Since Final Fantasy beta was closed by the time I got up and around I ended up cycling through Everquest, Rift, Vanguard, and Defiance never quite sticking in any of them. As a result I don’t have much excitement to talk about… and I am nowhere near finished with my second part of How To Rift… so I am going off in a completely different direction.
Ten MMO Must Haves
Basically over the years I have noticed several features that I expect most MMOs to have, and when they are not there it greatly harms my enjoyment for the long run. I keep cycling back to the ones that do have most of the list. Granted this is in no way a complete list, as I am sure there are things I have omitted for the sake of a clean number, but these are definitely all things I would prefer to see in an upcoming title. These are not necessarily in order of importance… but more the order in which I thought of them.
1 – Random Events
Nothing breaks up the monotony of questing and killing mobs like a random army invading the countryside. I have always liked when random things happen in games, I even like random loot so long as it is not something I need to progress forwards. In the post Rift MMO world, I feel like random things happening in your world is an absolute must have. When it is missing, the game feels extremely stale to me. When it is done well, you forget what you are doing and follow along the flow of what is happening in a specific zone. This should be events chosen from a long list of potential ones… not the same event happening over and over like in Guild Wars 2. Their implementation did not serve to make the world feel alive, but instead made it feel even more like a carnival ride resetting itself every so often.
2 – Passive Grouping
I should be able to help other players out, and they help me without having to worry about whether or not I tagged the mob first. Grouping should be something you do to hang out with people, not something you feel obligated to do constantly just to get through game content. I feel as though simply touching a mob should give me credit for whatever that mob is required for. Rift and Guild Wars definitely do this extremely well… but when I go back to a game that does not have it… I become a kill stealing asshole. I just forget that mob tagging is an actual thing that is still in games. If you do not have passive mob tagging… you are bad and should feel bad.
3 – Puzzles and Collectibles
I have the tendencies in me to power level myself to the cap and then get bored feeling there is nothing left to do. If your game has little puzzles and collectible bits it helps to make me stop and smell the roses. I feel for other players this becomes a meta game all in itself. These systems all seem relatively simple to implement, but it seems like there is a greater return on investment as far as gluing a player to your game. Rift and GW2 both have amazing examples of puzzles, and EQ2 has probably the most extensive collection system I have seen in a game. I greatly prefer there to be something for me to always be on the lookout for, that offers interesting gameplay and forces me to stop quest grinding.
4 – Moveable UI Elements
This one is huge to me. Essentially I will if given the option set my UI to look the same from game to game. I like certain windows in certain locations because it helps me not have to think about where things are. When you play lots of different MMOs this becomes something extremely important. Additionally I find myself setting up all my hotbars the same… 0 is the interrupt key, 7 is my combo point dump, 5 is charge/deathgrip, etc. As a result I really hate your game when you force me to play with your idea of how the UI should look. No matter how much research you have put into your UI, it is not ideal for everyone… and as a result you should never force players into your chosen UI design box. Make the windows unlock able and moveable either through the default UI like Rift or through Addons like WoW.
5 – Map with User Defined Waypoints
This is another big one for me. Navigating your world should be easy for the players. I should be able to open my map, click a point that I want to travel to and then get some kind of directions as to how to get there. This can be as simple as an Icon on the edge of the mini-map showing you the direction of your destination, or as complex as some sort of golden path or arrow pointing the way. Additionally it would be really amazing if your system allowed player defined permanent waypoints. That way we could actively mark whenever we found something cool in your world. TSW does an amazing job of this.. and I have tons of little markers scattered through all my maps pointing to nifty things I found. This is definitely something all games should emulate.
6 – Sortable/Searchable Bank and Inventory
First off let me say.. that the concept of physical bags with limited storage is something no one should ever do again. I greatly prefer one big inventory space because usually with that comes the ability to sort, filter, and search the contents of your inventory. Rift does an interesting hybrid model, in that they still have physical bags, but they have a sort and search functionality that makes up for the fact of having to juggle multiple containers rather than just one. Trying to find things in your bags should not be considered a meta game… and you should help players out so they have to spend as little time doing this as possible. There have been times I have logged into EQ2… looked at the state of my bags and logged out immediately because I did not want to spend the next 30 minutes clearing them out. That game is the worst case scenario… but I have had similar happen in many other games as well. Make your inventory system help the player rather than hinder them.
7 – Sell All Junk Button
If your game drops junk items from mobs aka “Greys” and you do not have a sell all junk button… you are a horrible person and should be drug out into the street and shot. Nothing is more frustrating than going through your inventory and having to manually sell a bunch of trash items that have no real purpose for existing other than to give you some cash. Better yet, don’t even drop the trash items and give us additional gold instead. I think the running theme of the last two should be that Inventory Maintenance is not a fun meta game. No one enjoys it, and all it does is make the player feel like they have just completely wasted their time. I am completely fine with getting additional cash in lieu of junk, but if you do have junk… for the love of god make a sell all crap button.
8 – AOE Looting
Thank you Rift for creating this construct… and thank you modern MMO developers for having the common sense to say “damn, why didn’t we have this” and adding it to your games. Nothing is more annoying than trying to select that one corpse from a pile of corpses that still has loot on it. My OCD will not let me go without searching all the bodies… it is like I knew that if I missed one… that would be the one that dropped some rare epic item. Again this is a cousin of the whole inventory maintenance is not a fun meta game… neither is looting. Better yet… all corpse interactions should be AOE as well… where the hell is my AOE skinning. The first company to give me AOE skinning, herbing, and mining of corpses… will be a god in my eyes.
9 – Full Character Appearance System
Now when I say this… I am not talking about Transmogrification. I could go on an hour long rant about how horrible that system is and how it is a half assed version of the good appearance systems. What I am talking about is additional sets of character doll slots that allow you to directly override the appearance of an item with another item. Rift has probably the best implementation overall right now, since you can have something like 12 wardrobe slots with ready to switch to outfits on the fly. The only gotcha there is due to their own constraints they had to implement a shitty “transmog” like system for doing the weapons. Players should never have to run back to a vendor to change their appearance… stop making them do busy work. I would love to see developers emulate the way the system works in EQ2, because you can literally change your appearance to anything in the game… no class restrictions.
10 – Facial Hair
I had a few other items I considered putting on the list… but honestly to me personally this one has to be here. If your game does not have the ability for me to give my character a nice beard, especially a moustache and goatee combo… I will hate your character creator and likely not play your game. I have no clue why this is so important to me… but it is. Namely I have seen the lack of facial hair in the Asian MMOs… but I struggled to find a look I could stomach in Guild Wars 2 as well. Additionally I cannot stand the “pretty boy” appearance that some games have… but I won’t go into that right now. Please for the love of god when you design your character creator… make Facial Hair a slider… not something that is attached to another attribute like hairstyle.
So there you have it… my ten must haves for a modern MMO. Like I said, I am sure that it is not a complete list at all… and as soon as I post this… I will think of another 10 things that should have been on the list. These however are the things that immediately came to mind when being frustrated with MMOs that do not have them. I would be curious to hear about what your list is, and whether or not I have hit your key frustration points. I hope you all have a great day, and I hope I manage to stay fully conscious all day long since I got up so early.