Foundational principle #3 is dear to my heart as I feel the "hand holding" in mmo's has gotten way out of hand.
"…our players are not children and this is not an intersection crossing. Over the years many MMORPG designers, me included, have employed various devices and mechanics in order to increase our games’ subscription base. We removed points of frustration (I termed them “quit points” at Mythic), sped up the leveling curve (the argument being that games should not be harder to level than WoW), highlighted evolutionary or revolutionary new features to differentiate our games from our competition (extremely guilty as charged your honor!) and others too numerous to describe here.
While this has brought about some very good innovations, it also resulted in the vast majority of MMORPGs becoming easier to player, simpler to master and more “hand-holding” that their earlier brethren.
These mechanics include speeding up of travel time (Players: “I don’t want to have to walk 20 minutes to get into the action because it feels like we are moving through mud”), lack of meaningful and/or punishing death penalties (Players: “OMG, I died because your random number generator is broken! It’s not my fault!”), fast leveling systems (Players: “I don’t want to max my character 12 months from now; I only play once a week”), auction houses (Players: “Don’t force me to interact with other players to sell/buy stuff. I have to do that in RL, I don’t want to do that in a game.”), easy to follow quest directions with full signage included (Players: “I don’t want to explore the world to find this NPC. I don’t have that much time to waste!”), etc. Players of course, relayed those “Player” statements to us back in my Dark Age of Camelot days on forums and through feedback/chat/Q&As/etc.
Now, none of these techniques is morally or ethically bad (since what is challenging for one gamer can be total frustration for another) nor are many players’ desires for an easier and faster playing game; and as a designer/developer/player, I absolutely agreed with some of them. However, with the implementation of some of these techniques, much of what made earlier MMORPGs and RPGs unique and challenging was lost.
Many developers/publishers were and are so afraid to let the players lose, make mistakes, suffer any inconvenience, etc., that we have created a feedback loop whereby many players expect spoon fed content that goes down real easy, shown how to do everything, directed so they can’t make serious mistakes, etc.
This has in turn caused many players and designers to lose touch with what made success in earlier MMOs really mean something. There are a plethora of clichés that I could choose right now but instead I will focus on “no risk, no reward.”
Continue reading here: You should always hold the hand of your children while crossing busy intersections but.....