This started as a list of things I like in MMOs but quickly took a turn to a wishlist. Certainly I've tried to stay within features offered by present MMOs where possible but there are also features from games that are not MMOs at all, and from games yet to be released. This is all part of the "dark revelation" I mentioned in previous entry. So bear with me. :)
Disclaimer: As with my MMO dislikes post these are just my opinions as a gamer. I do not try to speak for community as everyone is bound to know what is best for them. Even if game developers don't always agree with this. Opinions and comments appreciated.
Customization. I'm not talking about picking traits or adjusting your attributes. I'm talking about all kinds of sliders to change your body shape, facial features, hair, eye color, complexion etc. I want tattoos and patterns. I want ”acessories” such as jewelry, horns, wings, particle effects and other fantastic elements to create character that is unique to me. I want to customize the look of my gear and its stats. I want to customize my summoned pets. I want to have signature powers, and to customize the look of my spells and other abilities. So far the best examples can be found from games like City of Heroes, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online.
Action combat. I like to roll around and smash keys/mouse buttons to execute skill chains and combos. I like placing strategic ground targetted abilities to block enemy movement. I like to use cover. I like having a constant supply of basic useful tools for combat that never run out. I like having strategic heavy hitters that are limited in their use (i.e. timers). I like enemies that have special attacks you can evade or block. I like it when my skill matters when it comes to both strategy and execution. Champions Online had inkling of this. Single player games like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Mass Effect likewise. Certain yet to be released MMO captures essence of this quite well.
Sense of progress. I like to get new toys to play with. I like knowing my character is growing more powerful. Something that dates back to my DnD days. Levels often give you new toys but more often than that they end up replacing existing toys with exactly same looking toy but with different name. Not enough! Give me sense of progress instead of throwing same stuff at me with different name and color. Give me upgrades that are both statistical and visual! Both abilities and enemies!
Storyline persistence. I like to get an illusion that what I did actually matters. Lack of persistence is the main reason why I drop most MMOs very fast. I like to see NPCs to react to my actions. I like to know I really saved the day when I saved the day. I like to see my home and hometown to evolve. I don't want to leave those 20+ hostages to their cruel fate simply because quest demands I only rescue 10. This is something developers of Guild Wars 2 are working on with their personal stories and home instances. Let's hope they succeed because it's one of the key selling points for me.
Subgoal driven quests. I want quest areas to invole more than going through a horde of mobs, even if beating the boss in the end is the primary goal. There should be a lot things to do in between. Rescuing allies who help with the fight, eradicating a tough mob by flooding the room, finding a point of interest or something useful in otherwise dead end, sneaking around enemies instead of fighting them etc etc. I also wish to be rewarded for these actions and not lose experience. Instances are optimal for this. I want each instance to be an adventure that has its own identity. Not just a box with monsters. I even wish them to be replayable. Even heavily instanced games like CoH, CO and GW don't use these elements. DDO had a lot potential because of its D&D roots but didn't really use this feature either.
Public quests and events. I like sharing rewards and working together without need to form a party first. Why hide your boss mobs and raid mobs in an instance when you can have half of the server wailing at them? It goes beyond this too. Guild Wars 2 is promising us dynamic event system where events react to our actions in a persistent manner until reset point is reached. This sounds too good to be true and again one of the key selling points for me. It is something I've been asking since I started playing MMOs.
Graphics. A good game must have solid gameplay, solid customization and solid graphics. I'm a big fan of flashy effects, and spell/skill effects that change over time. I'd rather the graphics be more fantastic than realistic. I hate cartoony graphics though. I particularly like the way how Star Trek Online handles character and environmental (planetside) graphics but hate how Champions Online looks.
Ease of traveling and exploration. Map travel is a must! Once you have found the local ”hub” for activities, you should be able to get there instantly. Guild Wars is a shining example of working map travel. Traveling for the sake of exploration is enjoyable too. I love exploring new locations if they have points of interest in secluded scenic spots. I love strange movement methods like flying and underwater exploration. I love being rewarded from exploring a new spot.
Minigames, emotes and other fluff. I love all kinds of minigames from fishing to chess to bar brawls. I'm still hoping for Breath of Fire style fishing minigames and Archon Ultra style battlechess – or optionally Arcomage style cardgame. I also love collections especially if they are tied to quest areas, exploration and lore entries. I'm a huge collection junkie since EQ2. I love fluff abilities and special emotes. I love special effect auras (whirling leaves, orbiting crystals etc). I love having pets – especially if you can play pokemon style combat with them. Stuff that isn't useful for combat but ”cool” to have.
Powerful UI and item management. I like dragging my items to chat to broadcast their info. I like customizing my chat tabs to show exactly the things I want them to show. I like mouseovering skills to get short explanations. I like to click things to get detailed explanations. I like to have a separate inventory for quest items and collections. Even better would be simply a diary entry that keeps track of your collection. Basically the item goes ”poof” and appears in whatever keeps track of the collections and/or quests. This also extends to features that save time such as auction houses that remove the need to stand around while selling.
Adventure creation tool. I like the idea of creating own instanced stories where I can control the lightning, morph the area, set enemies, create rewards, create subgoals, trigger events. Basically a game within game. I'd also love to be able to use this tool to customize my ”home area” where other players can visit. City of Heroes is the first MMO game where I played with content tools but not the very first game. Single player games have had these tools before (i.e. TeS construction set, community mods for BG series) so have co-op games (i.e. Neverwinter Nights).