I'm a sporadic blogger and tend to write subject pairs so today's entry is going to discuss about my dislikes as a MMO gamer. The next entry in nearby future is going to be about my likes as a gamer. These together lead to what I like to call "dark revelation" about myself as a gamer. The revelation? That will be revealed in future. :)
Disclaimer: Remember that following things are my opinions only. I claim not to talk for the community nor know what community wants (an impossible task). However I claim to know my own likes and dislikes based on my experience as an online gamer (started with MUDs). I appreciate any feedback and thoughts on the matter. When you look at the entries I'm sure many of you realise why my motto is "content is the king". :)
Lack of customization. I get your game has gazillion races and classes but if they all end up looking same and have same amount of half-assed abilities then what's the point? Can I opt for a design with fewer races that actually look unique and fantastic as opposed to just humans with different skin tone and head slapped on top of the same basic body? While we are at it could I also have classes with actually meaningful differences? You know abilities that change appearance and progress as your character does? How about spell and skill customization? Equipment customization? Signature abilities? Customizable pets? Thanks!
Level gating content. I hate leveling. I hate losing access to content. I like earning new things. I like feeling more powerful. Wait. What? Current MMOs don't give a real sense of progress. Is it really progress if your level 50 enemies and abilities are identical to level 1 enemies and abilities. Only recolored and renamed. Where is the sense of progress? Where is the sense of power? You have only managed to lose access to some of the content.
Bad use of open (”persistent”) world. Sense of accomplishment calls for truly persistent changes which are ironically quite impossible in the persistent world. Your ”savior of NPCs” kills 10 enemies and rescues 10 people and the quest giver declares ”OMG! You have saved us all”! Yet nothing changed. There are 20 more people to rescue and baddies to kill, and more respawning from thin air even as you are defeating them. Instead of cooperation players compete over who manages to snatch the kill so they can progress to the next stage of the quest. Isn't this what instances are made for?
Bad use of instances. MMOs often place the world shattering enemies in instances where a small group of people fight them. Shouldn't it be the open world that is used for these great evils? For things that require cooperation from multiple players (public quests/events)? For things that trigger these events (slaying of enemies)? For things that won't cause players to compete over limited resource instead of cooperation (crafting, community building, merchants, shared event goals)? Isn't it nicer to kill those 10 skeletons knowing more will come but you worked towards triggering an event?
Bad Combat. Facing a regular foe and spending a minute to take it down is sign of bad combat. Even worse is the situation where I don't have a button to press because there isn't a single ability that is not on a timer. Bad combat is also involved when skill does not matter. Only gear. Standing still while characters exchange attacks may also be a sign of bad combat. Yet bad combat may also involve spamming same ability repeatedly because nothing else is quite as good as it is.
Stupid enemies. I'm supposedly this nearly god-like being who can fling fire and brimstone from my fingertips, a highly trained ”savior” of my people, who can return from dead because of some obscure lore reason, and you are sending me to fight what? Beetles? Plants? Rats? Wolves? BUNNIES? Greeeeat. Pass...
Railroad Slaying. I don't mean slaying of railroads. I mean entering into an instanced area with linear map design and slaying everything on sight from beginning to the very end. You are given this whole instance where all kinds of persistent changes could happen without affecting other players in any sort of negative way. Only not. There are no subgoals where you can rescue prisoners (allies), use trickery (flood room and drown enemies), find exploration rewards (items, collections, a summoning stone), blow up a bridge ahead of a chasing enemy horde, face a dark room that limits sight to a few meters, face traps that scatter the team etc etc. So many options! Yet the only thing you can do is slay creature after creature until the end.
Traveling as a time sink. You just wish to reach the next area, not scourge current one of all life hell bent on stopping you. Finally you have spotted the ”right way(tm)”. Only to find that after slaying a horde of mobs you hit a dead end. There's no exploration reward. No hidden quest. Not even a collection item. JUST A DEAD END!?!? To add insult to injury you can't scale the wall that separates you from the exit on the other side... /EMORAGEQUIT! (thank you Guild Wars and Prophecies maps..).
Bad UI. This is usually a bane of MMOs not ready for release. Simply trying to figure out what your ability actually does is some sort of arcane science. There are no customizable chat tabs. You can't drag your powers around or even move the power bar. The worst are the games where you are thrust into the gameworld with no idea what to do. Map markers for quests are for wussies anyways!
Bad Graphics or graphics style. This is a broad definition even for me, and often it's just small things that are off putting. For example weapons larger than a man flung by a twig-like girl in chainmail bikinis is major turn off – as in it can turn me off from the game without even trying it. Cell/Comic Shaded graphics are another thing (CO). As are too cartoony or blocky ones (WoW).