Down With Fluff!
Fluff: noun - Superfluous features in a MMORPG that have no direct impact on the core of the game.
I am tired of fluff being more important than core game play. It makes me sad to see developers add more fluff to their game than changes that have real substance. Gamers are being treated like kids at a carnival who are interested only in the loudest, brightest, most colorful rides. Game developers go for the popular additions instead of more meaningful, more impactful, longer term improvements.
When I was beta testing Tabula Rasa, I sent one of the developers a message asking if more abilities would get added to each class. I thought it would be a great way to add depth and variety to the game considering that each class has only a few unique abilities and that there are 5-, 10-, and 15-level gaps between the acquisition of new skills and powers. They told me there were no plans to add abilities. Instead of improving the CORE of the game (characters and combat), Destination Games and NCSoft decided that holiday events were more important. I canceled my subscription to TR out of boredom before my included month was over.
In their defense, DG and NCSoft did add meaningful things like an auction house and new instances. I just think that something CORE to the game, something that would make an impact at ALL levels of play, should take precedence over just about everything else.
You might say that it is more important to fill out the game's feature list before focusing on more long-term improvements. In TR's case, the developers are (hopefully) giving the game all the expected features before moving on to making the core of the game more diverse and entertaining. I want to believe this, I really do, but then I think of City of Heroes.
I have never played a more misguided game than City of Heroes. Cryptic had this gem in their hands - the only superhero MMORPG on the market - and they buried it under a mountain of worthless fluff. The game is years past release and there are CORE improvements that countless beta testers and players have made solid cases for, yet Cryptic was more interested in adding costume pieces, underutilized features (Arena, SG bases), and heaps of recycled door missions. City of Heroes, for me, is thoroughly bland, repetitive, and boring because the developers decided to ignore core game play.
I would LOVE to be enticed to go back and play CoH - I have characters there I really like. But there is no way I am paying $15/month so I can grind missions that take place in recycled environments, fight clumps of blindingly stupid NPCs, and play an endgame that consists of typical "the-same-but-with-more-hitpoints" style content. No amount of costume pieces, new power sets, and UI improvements make the CORE of the game any better.
MMORPGs are more and more being released without commonly-expected features, probably in an attempt to release early, then impress subscribers with "free" updates. In reality, all those updates do are add features that should have been included at release. The result is a continual game of catch up, where fluff additions are tacked on while the core game is ignored.