In this article, I'd like to give a better overview of where I think the genre is headed in the coming years and what that means for game mechanics. My predictions are based on market patterns and technology developments, including the great indie revolution, the effects of declining subscriptions on investment, and upcoming virtual reality technology. Pie-in-the-sky fantasy or an accurate predictor of things to come? Let me know what you think.
Procedural generation corrects much of this redundancy by providing essentially limitless variations of content, adding replayability and variety to the usual MMO repertoire. It also opens up some unique mechanics, like Elite: Dangerous' planned procedurally generated galaxy that is a full-scale replica of the Milky Way.
In this week's MMO Mechanics, I will look at how the genre is evolving because of how accessible procedural generation techniques have become to developers. I'll also explore how this might affect the future of MMOs by examining the mechanics that upcoming titles will incorporate.
I'm particularly fond of game mechanics that make real-world sense. Real life would not reward you for falling off cliffs, running headlong into a crowded room of enemies, or stumbling off the well-beaten track into the untamed wilderness. Consequences in real life can feel rather scary, so I really enjoyed the fear factor of some older MMOs because this allowed for a much more thrilling -- and ultimately rewarding -- gaming experience. I am going to talk about just three older mechanics I particularly enjoy that have fallen out of fashion, but feel free to lengthen my list by adding your favourites in the comments below.
The relative merits of these two diverging approaches to progression are commonly debated by modern MMO players. Many players wish to see a blended hybrid approach to progression that emphasises the horizontal, multi-faceted growth of their characters over rattling through yet another gear tier. Despite this, players still favour a goal-oriented attainment system and perhaps progressive gear that doesn't require a long run on the grinding treadmill. This balance can be very hard to achieve, so titles such as Guild Wars 2 have taken some knocks on the path towards perfect horizontal and vertical progression balance.
In this week's MMO Mechanics, I will look at what is meant by both vertical and horizontal progression, how they are mechanically implemented in MMOs, and what each type of progression means for the playerbase.
Utilising daily quests, creating an ongoing need for crafted equipment, and necessitating the farming of materials for the good of the collective are all very accessible ways to encourage players to log into their favourite MMO world on a regular basis. As useful as developers may find them, though, the appeal of repeatable daily content is hotly debated by MMO players. For some, low-octane daily content is a brilliant way to unwind that doesn't require a regimented schedule to complete, but many others find the repetition inherent in some daily content tiresome and uninspired.
In this week's MMO Mechanics, I'm going to look at the various applications of daily content in today's MMOs while weighing up the pros and cons of several of these techniques.
Since so many in-game actions financially reward players, MMOs have developed mechanics that attempt to curtail the inflation game economies usually see. Charging your character for goods and services, bind-on-pickup gear, regular destruction of valuable goods, and player-controlled auction house and farming systems all combine to keep the spiralling amount of coppers falling into player hands in check.
In this week's MMO Mechanics, I'm going to look at some ways both sandbox and themepark MMOs automatically rebalance weighted economies by exploring the systems that restrict the free trade of goods and curb players' constant accrual of money. I'll look at how each system functions and how player manipulation adds a new layer of realism to game economies.
Rewards become that much sweeter when we must risk something to secure them, and failure without consequence would render the gains made in our favourite MMOs insignificant. Without a considerable death penalty, it becomes possible to mindlessly crush content through brute force. I don't know about you, but I don't find fun in bashing my skull repeatedly with a rock in an attempt to crack it!
In this week's MMO Mechanics, I compare various death penalties and the effects they have on the MMOs that employ them. I'll explore just how tangible death penalties such as corpse running, gear durability loss, and XP drain make our character's demise feel.
Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest II, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Subscription, MMORPG, MMO Mechanics
The classic subscription model is a substantial paywall for the average gamer, and this is what has traditionally kept MMOs niche. The early game can be daunting to those who aren't familiar with the genre, and developers pour a lot of effort into easing newcomers into that gameplay. In this week's MMO Mechanics, I'm going to look at how some MMOs manage to break down these barriers through the use of clever mechanics in order to open up MMO gaming to more people than ever before.
Kill quests have become so common that plenty of MMOs have cheekily referenced the "10 rats" trope by literally making us smash in some rodent skulls, but killing cute, twitchy-nosed creatures is not the real problem. It's the uninspired kill list mechanic that often incites complaints of developer laziness, an argument that I don't think is justified. Kill quests exist to hone your skills through repetition, but they don't have to feel like an arduous grinding task and are actually a very useful mechanic for game designers.
In this week's MMO Mechanics, I stand up for the unloved stepchild of questing; I'll show you that killing a list of creatures can be both contextually engaging and mechanistically interesting, depending on how it's presented.
Several different loot distribution methods have been devised over the years to solve the problem of fairly distributing the swag, with most methods starting life as player-made agreements that weren't officially supported by hard-coded game mechanics. Players have long since rolled for gear or took turns to claim items round-robin style, leading developers to implement the most popular methods as actual game mechanics to avoid ninja-looting and then the inevitable public pity parties associated with player-led arbitration.
In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I'll break down three of the most equitable loot distribution systems used in MMOs today and look at why this age-old problem doesn't have a one-size-fits-all solution.
This new MMO Mechanics column aims to navigate the mechanical minefield that is the modern MMO through in-depth opinion pieces, comparative analysis, and a little bit of Irish wit, starting with a peek at what distinguishes MMO PvP battlegrounds from Massively Online Battle Arenas.
If women are from Venus and men are from Mars, MMOs and MOBAs must be from different galaxies altogether. Despite the similarities between MMO PvP arenas and MOBA matches, the two take very different approaches to progression, persistence, and matchmaking. This leads to two very separate yet equally engaging ways to test the mettle of your character against the might of a human opponent.
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