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Community Forum Spotlight: Game Mechanic Gripes

Each week, Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at a thread in our forums. This week, she's found one dealing with the most despised game mechanics in MMOs.

Game Mechanic Gripes

We all have our MMO gripes: too much grinding, too easy, too hard, the graphics suck, the community sucks, no PVP, too much PVP, too expensive, too many bots – the list goes on, and on.  And in case you’re curious about that list, poster Ikavadas decided to start an unofficial list of the “Most Despised Mechanics of MMORPGs.”

 Ikavadas starts this list off with the first 8 “despised” features:

  1. Character Levels
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  2. Classes
  3. Grinding
  4. XP
  5. Quests (not all, just the lame kill X snarfles, retrieve the zipzup from some NPC, a circuit of waypoints, et cetera).
  6. Instances
  7. Mobs dropping uber loot items instead of components for crafters to use
  8. Special attacks which are innate even though they obviously shouldn’t be (like having a grenade ability where you have a magical unlimited supply of grenades instead of having to purchase them and keep a stockpile in your inventory). 

User b0rderline99 adds the next two gripes:

  1. Singular development track (you can only advance by leveling up combat and your combat level determines everything)
  2. Everyone just races to the top level (everyone levels as fast as possible and that just burns me up). 

I agree with b0rderline99 on his provided 9th mechanic, and I think that some developers are beginning to, too.  Vanguard sported 4 full gameplay advancement spheres: adventuring (combat), crafting, harvesting, and diplomacy.  While these spheres interacted with each other, most could be pursued without touching any of the other spheres.

Xankriegor continues the list, providing point #11: 

  1. Open PvP.  I don’t care if it’s “realistic”, but having Open PvP just means that the game will be filled with griefers.

I like PvPing, but I agree with Xankriegor that it can often ruin the MMO experience.  Most games, fortunately provide server choices: faction PvP, open PvP, or consensual PvP only.

 The next item comes from poster bleyzwun: 

  1. Standing still and autoattacking is seriously my most hated mechanic.  I guess I can understand it for PvE, but PvP?

On the contrary, bleyzwun, most PvPers I meet use some sort of “movement confusion.”  In EverQuest, most meleers will circle strafe – meaning try to stay out of their target’s line of sight for attack, while keeping the opponent in their own line of sight.  WoW or Guild Wars players will jump and run around; EVE players orbit; and even in PvE, Tabula Rasa keeps you on your toes.

 Next up, zaxxon23:

  1. Bind on pickup and no-trade drives me so batty that I don’t play games that use this mechanic.
  2. Forced raiding as the only realistic method of advancement comes in a very close second.” 

YES! I could not agree with zaxxon23 more, on his 13th mechanic gripe – I can understand the rare and uber-powerful sentient sword binding itself to its bearer’s soul, but why do the majority of weapons bind on pickup or not allow themselves to be traded?  For economic reasons, of course – mostly to battle farmers – but it still drives me batty as well.  Part of the joy of MMOs to me is trading and interacting with others.  I love to haggle, trade, and play the market.  Having items that I can’t do this with is awful!

Many more users added mechanics to this list, and you can find the full compilation on the original thread, here (http://mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/149212).  But some users didn’t add to the disappointing mechanics list – instead, they analyzed the list themselves. 

User The_Archon replied to the original poster, “I feel your pain…honestly I do…but the stuff you list here are pretty much the bread and butter of MMO gaming.

“Char levels have to [be] implemented in some fashion, even if you don’t see a big numerical ‘18’ on the char sheet; you still have to have some measure of how skilled a character is.  If you don’t have ‘character levels’ per se, then you have ‘skill levels’…basically another name for the same data… 

“Classes.  No classes?  What, everyone’s the same class? You can’t mean that…that would be the ultimate cookie-cutter…  XP, same thing.  No advancement, than what’s the point of the game?  Anything else you call it…advancement points… it still boils down to XP…. Boring quests, I’m with you on.  Instances?  Those are mandatory for a big game, as long as they don’t overdo it.”

As defined, at least, by our website’s MMORPG definition (http://mmorpg.com/faq.cfm/showFaq/4), an MMORPG must have some form of character advancement.  After taking away character levels, classes, and XP, how do you progress?  Does a skill-based system such as Oblivion’s system count as XP and leveling?  One thing that Ikavadas brings to mind is a sort of Action MMO – where your character’s skill is only as good as the player behind it.  Imagine having your sword damage determined, not by dice roll, but by your own actions.  The problem, here?  Technology.  If you think lag sucks now, when you still have the dice to keep things fair, imagine swinging your sword 200 milliseconds too late.