As an avid MMO gamer, I have been highly disappointed with each subsequent release of the next “new” MMO. Riding off the wild success of World of Warcraft, each business model is a copy that is trying to take a chunk of their audience. But what it comes down to is this: the only WoW killer is going to be itself. The audience it attracts is not the standard MMO-dedicated crowd; instead, their target audience is a more casual brigade. You see: MMORPGs are in fact a niche genre, similar to Visual Novels and Dating Simulations.
World of Warcraft was the gateway MMO to many gamers, but is a shell of what it was a couple expansions ago. Since then, they’ve opened up to a much wider audience in order to create more revenue and in doing so, they made MMOs highly profitable. The MMO industry thus made a change to adapt to this business model that was highly profitable, leaving behind it’s own niche audience. What’s left of the audience are gamers that migrate from MMO to MMO hoping to get their next fix; however, that will never truly happen until the industry reverts and rids itself of some horrible “standards”. Here are the top 5 standards that are plaguing the genre:
Gear is perhaps a minor flaw compared to the remainder of the list. Gear is the carrot on the stick that keeps most players to renew their subscription monthly. But almost every other month it means absolutely nothing. Every patch notes that I read between the lines, I see:
“Got all the best in slot gear, enchanted and gemmed out? Great! That now means nothing as we introduce new gear to you. To make you feel worse, we’re now handing out participation badges that when collected, will give players who run mindless dungeons the exact same gear you’ve been working on for the last month.”
Gear is frustrating because all it is only a temporary achievement to be outdated. This can most easily be seen when leveling. I new MMOs, you can go through 3-5 gear set upgrades a level, and possibly worst of all: no body recognizes your gear through looks. To compare, Final Fantasy XI a pair of level 7 Leaping Boots could last your Thief 50+ levels; everyone recognized them as you passed; and they could be reused for each of your jobs (classes).
Also titled: “Since when is pushing any button better than making a smart decision?”
This is now the golden standard for all MMOs: push a button – we don’t care which! When I was playing my mage in WoW, it was better to spam spells rather than wait for a proc, even if it meant missing a proc. Why do we let this even be an option? I would much rather prefer making no action at all for 3-5 seconds if it meant I would wait for an attack of opportunity to deal massive damage. I’d like for creatures to have weaknesses again so that someone who spams a single spell all the time may not be choosing the correct one for the right situation. And where has teamwork gone? Why can’t we synergize our attacks to have a greater outcome? Can’t positioning have an impact on fighting creatures, such as flanking? I feel this is all apart of my #1 point so read on.
To sum up the biggest problem with questing I shall quote Tom: “Questing is a means to grind, rather than grinding is a means of questing.” I don’t care for killing X monster, gathering Y items, or completing Z objectives. And to have quest after quest with a mapfinder that tells me where to go, what to kill and how many is just boring. Questing is no longer fun because it’s a grind shared from level 1 until end game. In old MMOs, you used to grind so you could accept the awesome quest. And you were damn excited when you could finally unlock it. And the reward was pretty awesome, ranging from a scroll that taught you a new ability to special gear that filled out your character. Doing these quest were not always easy as well and required time, planning, and effort. The quests were more like epics rather than chores, again building off my #1 point.
2. Content Finder
Probably the most controversial point on my list, content finder is both a blessing and a curse. Gone are the days when you’d gather a group of friends, walk to your location of choice and complete whatever you were trying to accomplish. Nowadays, you click a button and you are automatically grouped with players that aren’t even necessarily on your server.
So why is this on the list? It destroyed the community. Anything you need want to accomplish can be done in a lunch break. And the people you’re supposed to trust and forge bonds with are also people you’ll never see again. In my opinion, this also caused people to become downright mean. Whether it was ninja looting or just being plain nasty, what’s the big deal since you’ll never see this person again? This mindset has slowly infected the community to the point where most casual players choose not to interact with others.
Which brings me to my final point: every one of these topics on my list can be completed with total independence. Sure you work with others in content finder; however, you need not have to speak to anyone if you choose not to. Questing and leveling can be done completely and highly effectively alone. Group quests can be disregarded as they are completely unnecessary and offer only slightly upgraded rewards. What you do in combat has no effect on the performance of other players combat choice. Even in raid fights, if you do what your one role is supposed to undertake, you’re doing your “job”. Finally, with the participation badges and content finder, you can feel free to gear out your character well enough to feel achievement and to be comparable to raiding guilds, with out making 1 friend.
My solution to all this is simple but inconvenient. Destroy these changes and force upon the player to interact with the community. Make a way that players who wish for independence to have it, but at the price of time and effort. A great community is what the niche MMO audience seeks, where we can interact with others and depend on our friends. Henceforth, I am stripping all current MMOs of their MM status and making them just ORPGs.