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Reader Comments (4)

Posted: Apr 23rd 2008 12:16PM Scopique said

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Absolutely agree.

I think part of the reason why you don't see negative traits has to do with the psychological underpinnings. It's cool to pimp your avatar with all kinds of stats and armor, weapons, utilities, etc. It's NOT cool, however, to cripple yourself on purpose (at least in the egalitarian world of the MMO, where everyone has to have the exact same opportunities in a "balanced" system).

If you look at how people interact during PvP, or even PvE, it's all about matchups: how your avatar compares to the avatar of the opponent, or if your avatar is "spec'd correctly". It's easy to create and "fit in" with an avatar who has everything arranged "just so", since these are choices made over the course of play. As the player progresses, he or she can refer to legions of online info on where to put their points to achieve "maxumum uberability" which, of course, makes them attractive in the "end game" to other players.

But if you allow players to cripple themselves from the outset, they're starting off with a handicap which may eventually come back to haunt them. They're now 20% more prone to taking magical damage, or they only get 75% of their class' maximum HP value or somesuch. Now they're a potential liability to a group, because no matter where they put their points later on, they'll still never be as uniform as others, or as "spec'd correctly" as group leaders demand.

Although if I remember correctly, CoH/CoV allows you to take attribute debuffs during creation. This fits into the whole "superhero as a faliable being mythos", of course, but also gives you some extra breathing room for additional specs.

Posted: Apr 23rd 2008 1:53PM Ghen said

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Well like the example Rafe put forward, developers could put in trades that while meaningful to a player have no relevance to gameplay. a dead 3rd arm vs. 50% higher vendor prices would be a worthwhile trade for some people striving to be different. The bonus they gain is purely cosmetic but very visible whereas the trade off wouldn't matter very much in the end game of most MMO's anyway.
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Posted: Apr 23rd 2008 12:22PM (Unverified) said

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It will be interesting to see whether or not the upcoming Champions game uses the Hero System method of buying disadvantages as part of character creation. I know they've talked a lot about being able to customize the look and feel of your powers, but will they go so far as adding in limitations beyond that? Will you be able to add "role playing" disadvantages and, if so, how will it impact the game in a realistic sense (my long time hero was an alcoholic, a fact that my game master frequently used to influence the story in the game. How would that translate to an online world? Would you just get bonus points for always having slurred speech and hazy vision?)

The key factor in what you're discussing here really does kind of filter down to role-playing. Those two words are probably the most neglected in the MMORPG acronym, and that's the reason why min/maxing is so prevalent. Build a game that makes people really want to role-play (and rewards them for it) and you'll have a game where disadvantages and flaws could work. Build a game that continues the raid/pvp archetype and I just don't see it happening.

Posted: Apr 23rd 2008 1:53PM Ghen said

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I really want to play a zombie with 3 arms now. Thanks.

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