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Reader Comments (50)

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 8:13AM Loopy said

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"So what features are generally seen as not necessary to a game that are necessary for you to even consider playing?"

Unfortunately this is somewhat of a conflicting question. If i was to say "This feature is absolutely necessary for me to even consider playing", i wouldn't have an active MMO subscription.

I used to be in love with Ultima Online housing system, and i thought i'd never play a game that doesn't feature it. Now i realize that i have to choose between (imo) quality MMO and (imo) crap MMO that features housing.

I'm saying this because most MMOs that do have housing also greatly lack in other aspects, making the game utterly unplayable for me.

Oh well.. one can hope...

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 11:54AM hereafter said

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@Loopy

I think you hit the nail on the head. There are a lot of optional features that I see lauded as "essential," yet making them a requirement before one even chooses to play a game would really shut them off to a lot of great MMOs.

I think it's unfortunate that developers aren't able to find a place for some of these features, but they're obviously not required to make a quality game, nor do they make bad games good. I also think it's important to be focused on a certain set of playstyles when designing a game. Trying to hit too many targets in one release can potentially end in a game that is over-budget and over-burdened with features it doesn't fully integrate or take advantage of.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 8:27AM Raikulxox said

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I've been spoiled by EQ2. Housing, unique crafting, pets, appearance slots...I need all those.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 8:29AM placebonation said

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Less and less mmos follow suite to the working and popular trends of older MMOs. Large enough real estate to plan player housing. Player Shops. Allow people to organically place their homes and watch a unique server provide users with years and years of new content. Guess that also depends on how big a crafting system is in place. Also allow players to build their houses. Even if the devs cause players to spend weeks making just the materials to even start creating their new home.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 8:43AM Spookimitsu said

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Fishing.
Or crafting in general, some non combative indulgence should be present in every MMO, weapon or gun smithing, auto, mech, or space craft repair, horse or chocobo breeding...

But always fishing.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 8:46AM Mikkhail said

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Of course, I am still playing a number of games ... so, if there were "mandatory" I would not be playing many games at this point ... but yeah the article and others have covered it pretty well. Housing, player stores, cosmetic appearance tabs, better crafting, more just-fun-social-aspects/mini-games, open world vehicle combat, something more meaningful that button mashing for combat mechanics ... there just seem to be almost endless features that **could** be added other than the grind ... but devs seem to have gotten lazy in a lot of ways ... the 600 pound gorilla made it easy to get lazy.

Probably my A-Number-One thing that does not necessarily stop me from playing a game, but has definately led to me leaving a game, is when devs drop patches that render absolutely worthless a trophy that I spent months earning.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 9:30AM DarkWalker said

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@Mikkhail
On the trophy thing, if by "trophy" you mean some exclusive bit of gear, I actually prefer when there are no exclusive items. I really dislike exclusivity, even when I'm the one getting exclusive things. If I like something, I want the other players to be able to get it too.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 9:54AM Mikkhail said

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@DarkWalker
No, not necessarily exclusive items or gear ... just items that are really cool, look badass, took 3 months to grind ... and show some level of accomplishment in the game ...

And are rendered completely and utterly useless by the next patch ... Of course, a "cosmetic appearance" tab would fix this sort of thing; I would be completely satisfied by that.

But really, ultimately, my personal wish would be that the gear you get would be completely cosmetic and only represent symbols of accomplishment ... I would rather that the game systems were more driven by skills based on your character development and not gear.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 1:20PM DarkWalker said

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@Mikkhail

With this, I completely agree :) And, with cosmetic gear, as long as everyone has enough choice to be able to make cool looking gear sets for their characters, I'm all for having special pieces meant as rewards for dedicated players.

I currently see rewarding well performing players with gear that increases their performance even more as a one of the nastiest pitfalls of the whole MMO genre. It artificially increases the gap between players, making the game easier than it should for good players and harder for not so good ones. In the end, this kind of reward often makes any combat content tuned for non-hardcore players, with their inferior gear, absolutely trivial for more hardcore players with their raid gear.

I remember doing a few lv80 5-man quests in Icecrown Glacier, after I already had a few pieces of ICC gear. I was able to pass the combat part of those quests by mostly just turning on seal of Light and auto-attacking. The content became so trivial that I was soloing content meant for 5 max-level characters without even having to pay attention.

Not having the character performance bound to gear levels is actually the most basic requirement for me to play PvP; I simply won't bother with PvP where the better geared character has an advantage. Thankfully, I also don't see PvP as a hard requirement for MMOs, so while I might see it as a wasted opportunity, I don't refuse to play a game just because I'm not interested in it's PvP.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 8:53AM Halldorr said

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Housing. Currently playing Glitch to get my housing fix :-P

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 9:02AM j1083 said

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Appearance tab ftw. I can get by without just about everything else, but not having control over how my character looks is the ultimate dealbreaker.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 9:03AM Shirogetsune said

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Role playing friendliness is a must for me. I hate not having the emotes I need to convey the action I want or being unable to interact with the environment beyond gathering/killing nodes/mobs.

A big thing I'm seeing less and less of these days is zones with exploration perks. Some of the newer games I've tried treat a zone as a place to gain five levels and that's it. No point in exploring, it all looks the same. Mobs are placed sporadically without purpose and have little to no back story. A fully fleshed out game with exploration perks lets me role play when my friends are offline. A pure leveling zone with zero frills is the #1 sign of the grind thinly hidden behind the game's mechanics and the main reason I lose interest.

Lastly, decent animations. If I can't find a race or class that moves the way I think it should or looks unique in a good way, I'm not playing. I'm going to be staring at you fighting for many hours, I shouldn't cringe every time you move for an attack.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 9:07AM Carolina said

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EQ2 ruined me with appearance tabs, interesting crafting and the awesome housing. Being able to remake my character's appearance at login screen for free is also something that made me hate games that charge for it.

So my answer would be "something interesting other then killing". Housing, appearance customization and a good crafting system is what I've been looking for while sorting new games to play.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 3:12PM Nepentheia said

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@Carolina

"something interesting other then killing"

Exactly!! You nailed it! :-)
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 9:11AM Link064 said

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I've asked this in different places with mixed results, but I'll try here too.

What "end-game" elements exist that aren't part of the gear-grind? Lots of people talk about how they're sick and tired of the gear grind, but what exactly is it then that you're looking for in end-game content that doesn't involve collecting and updating gear sets? I've played loads of MMOs and haven't ever seen one with end-game content that isn't just a massive gear grind, so if you have any insight please enlighten me.

Posted: Jun 20th 2011 11:18AM Irem said

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@Link064
I think that if "endgame" can just be defined as challenging content geared toward highly skilled max level players, that there's a lot of things the term could encompass. GW1, for example, has a lot of content that's tuned for max level players and require good builds and skill to complete, but there's no gear grind in that game unless you count getting materials to buy a shinier-looking outfit or six. FFXI had an endgame gear grind, but the story missions way back in the day could be some of the hardest content in the game, and much of the time the goal in doing those was to simply gain access to the hardest areas available (not to mention that when you -did- get a particular piece of gear, it was pretty much guaranteed to last you for years).

There's always got to be something to work toward, but what I find objectionable about the gear grind isn't the armor collecting aspect, but the sense of futility that goes along with it. In a system like WoW's, once I hit endgame, I know that what I'm doing (grinding for gear so that I can kill big monsters that will drop more gear that will let me kill bigger monsters that will drop more gear...) is what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my playtime, or at least until a new expansion comes out and I'm not max level any more. At max level, what was previously a game about exploration, questing, and travel gets boiled down to one overarching goal: kill big monsters, get better gear. Now, if a game wants to make me explore, quest, and travel to get better gear, I'm probably going to be complaining very little.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 12:23PM Link064 said

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@Irem
So, you feel like it isn't the actual gear grind that is the problem, but rather the presentation of it. I agree that it is a problem, but I'm not sure that the alternatives presented are good solutions.

If you remove loot drops (or make them unbearably sparse, like Aion), then the game just begins to feel like an even more massive grind just with less reward. Obviously, there needs to be a balance between reward and grind, where the former hands out free epics for showing up and the latter asks why you didn't spend an additional 6 hours re-running the same dungeons hoping to win the lottery. Completely removing the gear grind (or hiding it in a 'skill system') will only lead to frustration as players will feel as though they aren't being rewarded for their efforts. The number one thing you don't want players feeling after finishing some content is, "what do I have to show for it?" when you've given them nothing.

Perhaps then, progressing the story could be viewed as an end-game element? This would need to have a very specific purpose, different from gear progression. If it is only to unlock more content to get gear, then it will be viewed as filler content meant to hinder your ability to get to the "real" end-game (see WoW's old attunement system). This might work, but would have to be something quite special in order to prevent spoilerification. Sure, you can lead a group of adventurers through Icecrown Citadel to face off against the dreaded Lich King, but it doesn't mean much if you put a statue in the middle of the town that allows you to view the entire thing for no effort (*obviously an extreme example, but every static story can/will be easily youtube'd).

I've seen other solutions proposed, but all of them involve segregating your population, making regular content exclusive to level-capped players, or filling some sort of niche. At this point, I'm not sure there is any way to separate the carrot from the stick.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 12:58PM Irem said

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@Link064
It really is in the presentation, at least for me. I don't really consider "grind" a dirty word, but the kind of treadmill-esque gear grind I don't like looks like an assumption on the developer's part that everyone really -does- just rush through the leveling content to get to endgame, because endgame usually contains little or none of the stuff I had fun doing while leveling, that attracted me to the game in the first place. The emphasis on gear is a problem only when it's the only goal (or the design is so fixated on it that it eclipses everything else).

Part of the problem comes when the gear grind is designed to keep people hitting the treads just to maintain. There's a big difference between games in which a .5% stat upgrade is mandatory and one in which it's eh, kinda nice, but don't bust your ass for it if you don't want to. In games where it's necessary to constantly upgrade in order to participate, burnout happens easily because of the pressure to keep grinding even when you don't want to. When there's less pressure, the min-maxers can keep reaching for that last BiS piece while those who are satisfied with their power level can feel okay taking a break to go fishing.

And related to the topic: absence of a high-pressure gear treadmill is absolutely mandatory for me to even consider sticking with a game for more than a week and a half, now.
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Posted: Jun 20th 2011 1:40PM Link064 said

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@Irem
That's a great point, and something that should be looked into in the future. As a player, you spend X many levels exploring, doing quests, casually obtaining new gear, and completing other objectives. Then, suddenly, after you hit max level, you are no longer doing any of those things but instead repeatedly running dungeons and raids in order to max out your maxed-out character. Perhaps if more games would include multiple level-capped zones with quests, "extreme" exploration (maybe even group exploration), and alternative ways to obtain gear, they could give the illusion of a continuing game (instead of out-rightly embracing the gear grind).
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 2:08AM Jeromai said

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@Link064

I think part of this would be to disassemble the concept of raiding as extreme challenging content, done in a big group at a scheduled hour, with gear / build / skills suitable for the encounter, typically in an instanced map, wading through 'trash' mobs with little reward, to get to the big bad boss, that drops one (or two) pieces of highly desirable loot randomly, that ends up distributed in some way resulting in individuals within the group benefiting more than others.

GW1 is a good example of delinking the 'done in a big group at a scheduled hour' factor. A lot of the challenges can be done solo, as well as in a big group, so there is freedom to progress at one's own pace.

Rift raids take away the 'wade through an instance filled with trash mobs' factor. They seem a little easier to gather a group for.

Then combine some of the above factors with other activities one does in MMOs. Endgame exploration? Endgame questing? Endgame crafting? Endgame fishing? Is extreme difficult challenge the important factor, or is there something else that makes endgame activities endgame?

We could, of course, hope that doing said activity is intrinsically fun, otherwise, it'll just be back to a grind for the phat lewt again.
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