Thursday, July 26, 2007

So what should MMOs do differently?

Ok so now that I quit MMOs and made my public confession, here are some thoughts on what I think could be done differently. Other than letting your kitty level your characters.

First of all, I think the whole reward system is backwards. New abilities and spells come fast and furious in the first twenty levels or so and then tail off gradually to almost nothing in the later levels. Not only that, it takes longer to level the higher you go so you end up working harder for less rewards. Imagine playing D&D and being a mage in this system. By fifth level, you have all the nice juicy spells already. What is the point of leveling higher? I think they should put more rewards towards the back end of the leveling curve in order to give people more to look forward too.

The next piece that needs work is the quest system. Kill tasks suck, plain and simple. This is a quest? Maybe MMO developers should look up the definition of the word quest. What makes these types of quests worse is when not only do you have to kill a certain creature, but you also have to collect its spleen. Worse than that, not all of these creatures seem to have a spleen for some reason. Quests need a lot of work. I realize there are hundreds if not thousands of them in MMOs but, maybe they could go for quality over quantity? I think instancing can help the situation and ironically LOTRO does some nice work in this area, just not enough. I have also heard some good things about few upcoming MMOs in regards to kill tasks.

I am from the camp of people who think that your character should be able to change the world he is living in and leave his mark on it. I guess I might be in the minority here since WoW has over 9 Millions subscribers now and you most definitely can't change anything in it. I would like to see an MMO where the world changes due to the acts of the players. Cities would rise and fall and areas would be cleared out for settlement while new areas for quests emerge. This sort of thing is compelling to me. Nothing is more non immersive to me than seeing the major boss guy I just killed still running around the next time I pass through that area.

These are just a few of the things I would like to see change and maybe I am asking for too much, but I really think it could be done. Unfortunately, it is not the model of success that a game like WOW is today, but there may be hope for the future. In the meantime, hopefully companies will make more single player RPGs where this sort of stuff is more easily doable. There is a little company called Bioware who are in the middle of production of an MMO yet to be named. If anyone can do it, they can. We shall have to wait and see. In the meantime I am gonna catch up on all the Zelda's and other such games I missed.

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