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The List: Five Dead MMO Horses

Column By William Murphy on February 01, 2012

There are a ton of topics we MMO gamers like to beat to death.  Hell, saying we like to beat dead horses is beating a dead horse in and of itself.  But that won’t stop me from bringing them up here once more for us to whack like Rhianna when Chris Brown is grumpy and sad about being Chris Brown… was that in bad taste, or just untimely?  Both? Oh well.  Anyway, let’s get this show started so we can all get back to talking about the following five items in the comments below. Here is our list of the Five Dead MMO Horses.

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5.) IMMERSION

It’s a sticky wicket.  We all want to be immersed in our games, yet it’s honestly one of the hardest things to pull off in any game.  You have to meet that careful balance of having plenty of game features, while disguising them so it doesn’t become obvious that you’re in a game and not in an immersive world.  Some games do this relatively well (Skyrim on the non-MMO side) while others throw their gamey-ness in our faces with so much UI and bells and whistles it’s hard to think of it as anything more than just a game… and thus we are always and consistently outside looking in and never truly feeling like we’re part of our characters.  It’s the way of Theme Parks as MMOs, but we’ll get to that later.

4.) THE GRIND

This is the fact of MMO life.  These games are about progression, and keeping us entertained through that progression.  Some titles disguise the grind better than others, but it’s always there in the background.  Ultimately, we’re all just playing in a world, leveling our characters like we would in D&D and we hope that we enjoy ourselves enough not to notice how repetitive it all is.  There’s no one cure for the Grind, so how about we all just accept it as an inevitability and keep trying to figure out how to make it suck less?

3.) PVP AND IMBALANCE

Have you ever tried to hold about 400 lbs. of dog poo in one hand and another 400 lbs. of raunchy kitty litter in the other?  This is the task developers face when putting PVP into their game and trying to balance it.  We all want them to manage it, but they just want to drop it and run because their hands are getting infected and it smells awful.  There’s likely no solution to this problem, the closest thing being “DON’T HAVE TWO FACTIONS IN YOUR GAME”, but that doesn’t make it any less aggravating.  Classes, factions, actual terrain design…it’s a mess no one sanely enters into.  But like everything else that bothers us about MMOs, most of us want PVP and we’ll gladly suck it up and deal with the BS (all the while complaining, mind you).

2.) THEMEPARK V. SANDBOX

We like to argue, don’t we?  About pretty much everything around the industry even.  But one thing really gets us going: what’s better, the theme park game or the sandbox? Personally, I like a blend of the two, but that’s neither here nor there.  The truth is, this is all a matter of preference and with exception to the fact that one outweighs the other heavily in the current crop of AAA games, the argument is pointless.  It’s like saying “I like chocolate ice cream better than pistachio.”  Both are options are valid, but the larger portion of people seems to love chocolate ice cream, while pistachio remains a dearly loved flavor for a sect of ice cream patrons that has long since started a cult in the honor of the venerable green dessert.

1.) ENDGAME WOES

Now this horse?  This horse I wholeheartedly endorse the continued beating of. We need to figure this one out people.  No one seems to get it right, and I’ll be damned if in ten years I’m going to be content with just raiding for gear as my means to level-capped advancement when there’s no more content to be had.  On second thought, if you see the above topic, it seems the true way to solve the endgame woes is to just give everyone pistachio ice cream when they hit the level cap.  Yep, that’ll do it.

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