We’ve all got our must-have gameplay systems that absolutely need to be present to secure our patronage to a new MMO or RPG on the block. For some, it’s an in-depth crafting system that allows players to create the most powerful items in the game and corner the market with their wares. For others, it’s a fully realized PvP system that requires the use of different strategies and builds, with leaderboards and rewards to boot. For the easily-distracted, like yours truly, it’s an engaging combat system with a variety of other activities that reward exploration and experimentation.
Apart from specific systems that cater to individual tastes, there are several quality of life features that need to be considered in any MMO’s development. Some of these features have the potential to streamline potentially tedious game activities, while others are simply thoughtful additions that help new players navigate complex systems. Here are five of these features to consider!
It’s not uncommon for an MMORPG to have a nigh-impenetrable currency system that only becomes more bloated and confusing as new reputations and factions are added over time. There are several games that require you to sift through your inventory and bank for faction-based currencies and head to a specific NPC vendor to buy whatever gear or trinket you’ve earned. It’s complicated for experienced players, and must be completely baffling for newbies.
Although simple, a wallet can do wonders for streamlining these different currencies, particularly if it contains explanations for what they’re all good for and to which NPCs they can be redeemed. Taking this a step further, it would be awesome to be able to redeem them from a centralized user interface instead of having to track down a reputation NPC, but that might break some of the implied immersion.
Group finders tend to be polarizing, in that some players to find them to work against community engagement, while others see them as easy solutions to finding other people with which to play. It’s true that being able to click a button and find four other dungeon runners takes out some of the magic of getting to know other players through in-game chat, forums, or by other means. Still, that’s a small price to pay for the ease of use that group finders represent, especially in games that have more diffuse communities. It’s even better if a group finder can allow you to connect with players across servers, essentially ensuring that you’ll have more time partying in a dungeon and less time waiting around for others to show up.
I’m not a designer or developer, and don’t have a sense of how much or little work is required to implement a “sort” button. But for the love of all that is inventory management, this little feature would go a tremendously long way towards streamlining crafting resources, gear, and the hundred other types of items that adventuring tends to accumulate. It seems trivial to ask for the ability to sort by name, item type, or other categories, but it’s such a boon when available. Even the capacity to condense all the scattered items in your inventory to the smallest number of bags would be welcome!
Other games may have done it previously, or in other ways, but Guild Wars 2 is the first MMO I’ve played that elegantly and seamlessly allows you to deposit crafting materials to your bank from anywhere in the world. This feature may err on the side of convenience and away from immersion, but it’s well worth it if it results in more simplified inventory and crafting resource management. I’d suggest even taking it a step further and allowing you to access your banks at any time, but I’m an unabashed proponent of streamlining.
Although mentoring is a much larger and more complex system to implement than any of the previous suggestions, it’s one of the most important and largely overlooked features in MMO design. Essentially, if a piece of content has been designed with only a specific level range in mind, that content will have effectively been rendered useless after a character has reached a designated level. There’s no reason to not let players jump back into that content at other levels, either to adventure with lower-level friends or because they themselves missed it along the way. Add to this the elimination of mob tagging, and you’ve got a collaborative gameplay system that rewards you for playing through any content - not just that which has been created specifically for your level.
What are some features you think should be present in every MMO?