You would think that with the seemingly infinite MMO titles out there, that there would be an endless supply of titles to try when you decide the last one just wasn’t the right one for you. For the past few months, I have gone through the same game lists on the same sites enough times to know – I have played them all……
When I say that, I do not in any way mean that I have played the hundreds of games out there; I simply mean that I have played all of the ones that looked interesting enough to try. My Raptr report from 2013 states that I played 43 different games; 36 of them were MMO titles. Since the very first online game I ever played (America’s Army Online), I have gone through the game lists trying to find “the ONE” game that will keep me for a very long time. The market is flooded with poorly designed f2p games; so bad really that it is very obvious that the goal of the game was to make a few bucks on a low budget and then stop supporting the game as they work on their next cash farm. For a very long time I have thought about what I would like to see in a game, and for a very long time I have found some of the things I want in some of the games that I have played. It has gotten to the point that I have to ask,
“Is it really that hard to put it all in one game?”
I have often tried to search online for a website that is frequented by game developers. I have still not found one, or at least, it has never be apparent or obvious that they do. I think it would be a nice idea to do really; have a site where game developers can go to view blogs or forum posts by people like me; gamers’ who KNOW what they want in a game, not that have to be told what they want in a game. I am an older gamer (yes, my eyesight is starting to go even) so I do have an idea of the features in games that appeal to me. I am going to post my list below, then elaborate on the areas to further explain them.
- Crafting system
- Achievement system
- Game world Holiday events
- Engaging storyline
- Moderate PvP
- Massive zones
Some of the crafting systems out there right now are worth mentioning, but I will not in an effort to avoid showing favoritism for any one title. At the same time some of the crafting systems out there fail…just….FAIL! Some developers’ seem to have tried very hard to grab the craft-a-holic (as I call us) and make them a loyal player, while others still seem to not care if we play their games or if we do. Most games out there try to put forth an effort to accommodate the crafter, but it is still pretty obvious that they were not really trying to work out every kink. So rather then start talking about what was good in what game and what [sucked] in another, I am going to list what I think a crafting system should be like.
First and foremost, try to look at this from the perspective of a person that wants the best. The best isn’t going to be something that you can buy from a store shelf; not if you can make it yourself. Since crafting is basically us making items for ourselves, is it safe to say that we are going to try our damnedest to make it the best that it can be?
‘When you cook for your family, are you going to half ass it, or try to make it a gourmet meal they are going to want more of?’
The way I see it, if you are making something for yourself, you are going to want it to be the best that it can possibly be. You aren’t going to pound out a set of plate-mail really fast so that you can run that dungeon with your friends; you are crafting something that you are going to wear. It needs to be solid, it needs to do what it was designed to do, and it should be the best quality you can do. It is for that reason that I feel a crafting system should allow you to produce the best equipment in the game. No quest reward should EVER be better then the gear you are able to create yourself. Raid gear, that is a whole other animal; but the gear you craft should be able to get you there. That is why a crafting system should have two crafting options; BoE and BoP. BoE (Bind on Equip) should be standard gear that you craft, perhaps as a way to level up your skills, or maybe to help gear your friend in something that might be better then what he or she currently uses. BoP (Bind on Pickup) should be that special gear that you craft for yourself. The gear you spend hours and even days farming the resource nodes for the rare materials that you do not always find; the materials that should give enhanced stat bonuses to the gear created, and higher regenerative properties from the medicinal’s and consumables you make as well. It should also be easy to understand, with a user friendly UI with straight forward descriptions in the tool tip to explain what goes where when crafting. Crafting should start from the material collection, then to the refining, then to creating the components, then assembling the components to create a functional piece of equipment. To me, this feels more like I am actually involved in the process of crafting. I honestly cannot stand games where the NPC does the job for you, while you sit there staring wide eyed in anticipation of the possible critical result that will give you the best stats you are going to get…until your next quest turn-in…. The items you craft should last you until you can create better.
Another thing that absolutely drives me crazy about a crafting system in a game, is the limitations on what you can learn. What I mean is, only being allowed to take on ONE crafting profession. That’s like saying that you can only learn to cook, but you are not able to learn how to work a register because your intelligence is much too low to handle THAT much information. I feel that you should be able to learn as much as you want, just like we do when we go to school. Only having one area of expertise is fine, but we should not be limited in what we can and cannot learn. I like to be self supporting; there is nothing worse to me then being a new player to a game, having absolutely no income, and trying to buy better gear for myself from players’ who seem to think that everyone that is playing the game has a max level main with an unlimited supply of currency from doing the daily’s. I have had to make more then one character in just about every game I have ever played; needless to say, burnout happens quickly and I move on to another game. It would be nice, in my opinion, to have a game where I can play ONE character, yet still be able to craft EVERYTHING I am going to need.
I have to be honest……if a game has an Achievement system of some sort, it is more likely to keep my interest. I don’t mean a system that gives you a message every time you move; seeking that mountain pathway that leads you to that hidden puzzle in that cave that very few know about and solving the puzzle…that is what I am referring to. Achievements should not only be awarded for reaching certain milestones in your character’s career, but also for straying from the normal gameplay to do some of the side content that some players’ would prefer to avoid. the best achievements are the one’s that award titles and special prizes for completing them. Recognition for the effort you make is a nice way to keep you going.
Game World Holiday Events:
Most of us enjoy at least one Holiday a year. One of the things that gets me motivated to log in and play my game, is an in game event centered around the current Holiday. Lately, the games I have played seem to not be engaging in as many. While it is nice to see the current holiday in game, I honestly would feel a lot more about a game if it contained Holiday events centered around the game World’s lore. Sure, they might not have “Christmas” in the game World (it kind of is just something that occurs on our World after all), they might have another Holiday around that same time that could very well resemble it. Just as our cultures have multiple Holidays a year, I feel that a persistent game World should as well. Some of these could be celebrations centered around a great battle in the lore of the game, while others could be something centered around the changing of the seasons, or the time of the annual hunts of the past. What ever the reason, there should be game World events to help break up the every day tedious quest grind and add more fun to the game.
I cannot remember what the first game was that I played where I had to learn the terms Story quest and Side quest; but I remember I enjoyed it a whole lot more. I have played a few games that only contained “quests”, in limited supply, and expected you to grind out the last 35% of your level by farming the monsters in your quest area. I feel that there should be more quests then you need, so that there is never an excuse for you to not level. Story quests should provide you with a little bit of experience point gains, maybe some coin to fill your coffers, the occasional gear upgrade, but mostly, it should boost your starting faction reputation. The side quests should provide you with the majority of your experience point gain and revenue. The Story quests should lead you to the next zone that you will be going into for your level, and should make the game exciting; it should not feel like yet another grind this for this item to make this NPC happy situation. Story quests should have puzzle quests to solve (like investigation and evidence gathering for YOUR faction representative in the area – hence the boosts to your faction reputation) race against time missions, rescue operations in instanced areas where you can test your character’s abilities against formidable mini bosses (I feel this helps you learn how to really play your character class). The Story quests should add another element to the game, aside from the mindless drone grinding. The best case would be a customization story line, tailored to your style of play; in other words, the choices you make in the dialogue with the NPC’s you interact with determine the course your story takes. This I feel would provide each player with an experience more tailored to fit their personality and style of play.
I’ll be honest here…..I do tend to get into the PvP in a lot of the game’s that I play. But just like enjoying a good drink, too much isn’t always the best thing for you. While I know there are some out there who disagree with me, I feel that PvP should be in moderation. No player should be forced in to any PvP content for any reason. PvP should be consensual, and no content in the game should require you to participate in order to achieve. My views on PvP are probably not very popular, but they are my views; and as I see it, some (if not all) of what I think is logical. As I said before, no player should be forced to engage in PvP; if a game is really that good, it should be able to accommodate players’ of all types. There should be server’s set up to provide people with choices in gameplay; PvP server’s as well as PvE server’s. PvP would allow those interested in engaging in open world PvP a place to do so, while PvE server’s would allow players’ to focus on completing their quests and character progression. Too often, some players’ out there cannot exercise the restraint to not attack players’ lower then themselves; this makes a game experience less then favorable for some of the people who play it. While some may not view instanced areas as actual PvP, the use of instanced areas for PvE servers devoted to PvP will allow players’ to engage in PvP content at their leisure (Warzones, Battle Grounds, Skirmishes, etc.). With that said, other things are brought to light.
Player’s going into instanced PvP areas should not have that great an advantage over others; I feel that the use of a gear rating system will prevent this. I feel that putting equally geared players’ into the same PvP area will provide them with a more balanced PvP experience. Aside from that, more players’ might be inclined to try the pvP if they know they will have a better chance at actually learning how to do it, without the threat of being farmed by better equiped and more experienced player’s. Also, the term “random” should be just that; random. Groups of player’s queing up for instanced PvP should not be placed into the “random” que if there are more then three member’s in the group. More then three player’s in a group should always be qued as “ranked” or “rated” PvP. Allowing large groups of player’s to que into a PvP match as a “premade” match creates tension for the non premade team, and seriously lowers the experience for some of the players’. So I say any group larger then three should always be considered “ranked” or “rated”. No one team should have that much of an advantage over the other.
So much goes into this area, but I will try to summarize it. This includes character creation, UI management, Guild creation, player housing, mounts, Guild areas (as in guild Hall, Guild Castle, Guild house, etc), equipment, costume; you name it, this area cover’s it. With that said, its should be fairly simple now to elaborate in a few words. the game should provide several options in all of these areas to allow the player’s to create more unique appearances, abodes, equipment, ect. One thing I have never seen during any crafting I have done, is the option to include a set of dyes to create the item with a user defined color scheme. That in my opinion is giving the player more customization control, which is allowing them to add to their own uniqueness. Just like you can go to a salon and have your hair dyed, you should be able to have that same control in the game you play. You should be able to change the color of your mounts, your hair, your gear, and if the game has it, the interior and exterior of the housing you dwell in. This option would fall into the optional content however, which for an f2p game, would mean cash shop purchasable items. Which I am all for, since it is not an advantage giving item in the game. Since I brought it up, I feel the only items that you should have in an item mall, would be things which provide convenience, not advantage. Mounts, which it seems give an advantage, are really more of a convenience item, therefore, I am all for them being cash shop purchasable items. All players’ should at some point be provided a basic mount; but the more exotic mounts should not be in game given items (the exception would be completing a chain of achievements in the game where the final reward would be a mount).
Why do you play an MMO? I know for some it is the socializing, other’s the ability to beat other people online in some part of the game (usually PvP, but for some Raids). For me, its the knowledge that I am playing something that has an end but doesn’t really have an end. Single player games…..there really are not many on the market that allow continued progress after you reach the endpoint. MMO’s on the other had, have an end, or “Endgame” that really is not. I feel that a game should allow for progression, whether you reach endgame or not. There should be the occasional expansion, but not so many that the game progresses faster then the players’ do. One of the reasons I play MMO’s is because I have the ability to progress in the game.
When I say massive zones, I am not trying to say that I would like a game with zones so large I will never see them fully. When I think of massive zones, I think of areas of a game world that allow for future expansions possibilities. Say they decide they need to add a new raid in an area of the map. If the map was designed small to begin with, they will either have to redesign the entire area, or remove something to accommodate it. Starting with a large zone in the first place, even if there is an invisible barrier preventing players’ from venturing out into it, will allow future content to be added without having to redesign the area maps completely. Also, the larger the area, the more possible content there can be, which equates to more options to level and explore. When an expansion is released, that washed out bridge that once prevented you from continuing down the road, now has a bridge constructed, allowing access to that area you have longed to explore!
*Additional thoughts after posting*
I can’t believe I missed this one, as it has been a problem in a lot of the games I have played. Solo-friendly. In several of the games I have played, once you reach a certain level (typically once you reach the last hike to the endgame content) you will sometimes notice a decrease in the players’ available to participate in the group related content. In some of the polls I have read on some of the gamer sites, often a person will get tired of a game long before they reach the endgame content, for one reason or another. So while the start areas of a game might be over crowded, the areas later in the game tend to be light. I feel that all group based content should be scale-able, to accommodate the lack of available assistance. Especially if part of a Story quest requires that a group area be entered. Group areas should present a challenge to the players’, but not be so difficult that they cannot complete the tasks required on their own if need be.
So, with all of that said, it should be easy to see what it is I would like to see in a game. Trust me, if I had the coding ability, i would design it myself, along with several other features that I did not mention, due to the length of this already long blog post. I only wish that I was able to direct this to the attention of the people who design games. It would really be nice if a developer would actually ask the community of gamers’ what they would really like to see in a game. I am fairly certain that a lot of what I have said would be heard from more then just myself. At any rate, thank you for reading this long post, and feel free to comment!