Perfect Ten: Weird questions that I want answered before I play an MMO

Jumping into a new-to-me MMO can be a heady, nerve-wracking event. I think there's a reason why we find our "comfort" games and feel a pull to stay with the known than to venture out more regularly to taste the fruits of other online titles, and that's because there are so many small but crucial factors that play into whether or not we'll enjoy our time in a game.

I see people all of the time asking for matrices of MMO features, which on the surface sounds like a good idea -- but gets pretty insane when you consider how big these could grow. After all, knowing a business model and genre and combat type isn't always enough. There are other deciding variables that can mean just as much to us.

So today I want to rattle off 10 weird questions that I would personally love to have answered before I head into a new MMO.

1. How easy is it for enemies to knock me off my mount?

This might be a silly question, but consider that no two MMOs seem to handle this issue the same way. In some games, one hit by a mob is enough to toss you off a horse and force you into combat when you were just trying to get to your next quest objective. In other games, it might take multiple hits or even infinite hits to ever get you off your high horse.

I want to know this. I want to know how inconvenienced I will be by the local wildlife if I'm trying to traverse a zone. Also, does your MMO allow me to re-mount even if I'm in combat? Because if so, you are my new best friend.

2. Will I have a choice of weapons?

The newer trend in MMOs it seems is to give each class a fixed weapon type instead of a range. Not every game subscribes to that (lazy) school of design, so if your MMO gives my character a choice in weapon types, then this I would like to know very much.

3. Where's the screenshot key and folder?

Before you say with scorn, "It's the print screen key, fool!" realize that it's not always. No, sometimes it's F12. Or F11. Or Ctrl-Z. Or some other random key hiding in a forest of clones on my keyboard. And not every game throws screenshots into the same place (I prefer my documents folder, thank you very much) nor tells you where these magically captured moments in gaming history are stored. Tell me up front, please. Don't make me hunt around for them.

4. What's the most popular class?

Frankly, I'm terrified of playing the most popular class in an MMO if for nothing else than I think it increases the odds that developers will think that it's overpowered (massively, even) and nerf it to the ground. Plus, I'd rather take the road less traveled and not be part a swarm of identical professions.

5. Do you have an insane dev on staff who thinks that jumping puzzles are the bee's knees?

If so, do you put a lid on that noise or do you let that developer spend 100% of her or his time on creating aggravating platform puzzles for the next patch?

6. Where are your patch notes?

I love scavenger hunts as much as the next childlike middle-aged adult, but there is a time and a place for them. Some studios appear to think that the time and place for such hunts is with the patch notes, which are often so cleverly buried that players have to hire private investigators just to find out what happened with this recent update.

Maybe I sound bitter about this, and if I do it's because I've spent five years of my professional life trying to hunt down patch note locations for news stories. My therapist (Jef) said that I'm close to a breakthrough with it.

7. How toxic and/or welcoming is your community?

This is outside of (although influenced by) the power of the studio, but I still want to know what kind of social situation I'm stepping into when I enter your game. Is it a lake full of grizzled, territorial veterans who resent any fresh-faced goon asking newbie questions in chat? Is it a tight-knit community that will fawn all over my character's debut? Are there divisive features such as gearscore and DPS meters and welfare epics that serve to fracture the population?

8. How much time and work will I need to put in to catch up with the crowd?

Obviously, this question isn't as relevant to brand-new MMOs or those that have a fairly even level spread among the population. But for games that have been out for a year or more, usually it's pretty important to know going in how long it will take to "catch up," especially if there are expansions on the way that are going to move the finish line.

Oh, and if your game has any features that will allow me as a lowbie to mentor up to a high-level friend or otherwise do content with veterans, please let me know that from the outset.

9. What one or two stats do I need to concentrate on?

I know that we can't really divorce RPGs from stats, whether they're shown or under the hood, but my eyes glaze over when I see pages of numbers that I can't manually influence anyway. Just tell me the one or two stats that I should gun for, and I'll be happy with that. The rest of your stats can go jump in a lake, unless "lake-jumping" is another stat I am expected to track.

10. Are there any red flags for your game's future operation?

Let me put this bluntly: Does it look as though your title is going to go belly-up within the year? Because if so, I don't want to be wasting my time in it.

Is there a small and struggling population? Are you slapping "subscription-only" together with "free-for-all PvP" and expecting crowds to come in? Are your lead developer and game servers on a freight train somewhere trying to stay one step ahead of Johnny Law? Have you ever used the phrase "WoW-killer," ironically or not?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line "Perfect Ten."
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89 Comments on "Perfect Ten: Weird questions that I want answered before I play an MMO"

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Lord Zorvan
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Lord Zorvan

lorenleah Lord Zorvan I turn all chat off immediately upon first login in any mmo, so I'm never bothered by these things.

SteinarB
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SteinarB

Estranged  Grrr...  Holocrons...  Rage.  Increasing!  Fall to darkside complete!  Urge to murder the entire Galaxy achieved!

Leilonii
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Leilonii

This is a great article especially the jumping puzzles. And I'd like to add in to that any remotely difficult vistas. They're all just frustrating. Sure sometimes when I succeed it feels good and is satistfying, but not enough to make me actually look forward to doing them. I actively dread them and really only do the vistas in order to complete maps, but even some of those suck. :( I wouldn't mind if it was optional content, but it's really not something you can avoid.

lorenleah
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lorenleah

Lord Zorvan lorenleah You wandered all the way back into a no less than four-month-old post to tell me this?  Why thanks, stranger, you must have thought it was really important.  I never would've figured out this vital information if you hadn't gone to such pains to clue me in.  It definitely never ever occurred to me that there's a block function in chat before, no sirree!

Lord Zorvan
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Lord Zorvan

lorenleah Every game has an ignore feature. Use it.

Tsiya
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Tsiya

The engine. If the movement doesn't feel right, I won't play your game no matter how good it is.

Hurbster
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Hurbster

BryanCo Wratts Same here, way too late.

Estranged
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Estranged

LOL
I'm a SWTOR fanboi and abhor them!

Hurbster
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Hurbster

Estranged Holocrons - so much hate.

Hurbster
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Hurbster

- Proper Beards
-  Reverse y axis.

DarkWombat
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DarkWombat

ColdinT I was all prepared for something deep and insightful with that first
sentence, but turns out you're just a troll. I'm left disappointed.

The Sojourner
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The Sojourner

5. Do you have an insane dev on staff who thinks that jumping puzzles are the bee’s knees?
If so, do you put a lid on that noise or do you let that developer spend 100% of her or his time on creating aggravating platform puzzles for the next patch?

I personally can't get enough jumping puzzles. That's almost the main reason I'm so engrossed with WIldstar right now, along with just how fun movement is.. Especially with the Explorer path. Now, certain games that aren't too focused on jumping and movement in general, shouldn't have jumping puzzles. I felt they were way out of place in games like GW2 and WoW.

I've always ran around like a parkour maniac while waiting for PvP queues, but never had as much fun as doing it in Wildstar. Hell, I've devoted hours, just riding around Ilium on my hoverboard doing freestyle.

jmadfour
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jmadfour

1. Do your game have lockboxes?

2. Is your PVE and PVP content separate, with designated areas for both?

3. Can I make a Bald Black Guy with a Beard in character creation?

#3 is optional, but if the answer to  #1 is Yes, and/ or your answer to  #2 is No , then your game is a nonstarter for me.

Caec
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Caec

Khalith While I agree the RMT is insanely bad in FFXIV, you deal with it very simply by creating the following macro:
/blist add <r>

I'm pretty sure it's on 99% of the player base's hotbars. :)

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

11) Do I have to look outside your game for information on playing your game? 
Guild Wars 2 fails at this spectacularly. Almost everything you need to know about crafting lies outside of the game, on random blogs or wiki sites. Crafting those ascended weapons? Nowhere in game does it actively point you to how to do it. The discovery of crafting recipes? Fun for... I guess there might be someone out there who finds it fun... but in practice it's just easier to look at a third-party website to find recipes. Mystic Forge "recipes"? Seriously, the more you send me outside your game to find information that should be readily available in game, the more tempted I am to tab-out and then never tab back in.

BigMikeyOcho
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BigMikeyOcho

modulooblongata " if the developers actually recognize an expanding market" - Answered your own question. Macs aren't an expanding market and haven't been for some time. If I wanted the best apps, I'd get an iPhone. If I want the best games, I stick with PC (or get a console).

Robert80
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Robert80

direpath Robert80  Yeah.  I know of several games where something you would just step over under any logical interpretation of things is a major obstacle.

meltedskul
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meltedskul

johnmynard Wratts I'm going to have to politely disagree. Elin are sexualized in Tera. Can you dress them up in a more 'cutesy' fashion? Sure but that doesn't erase all the revealing clothing and statues that's pranced around. A race that's handled in a much better fashion than Elin [since frankly they make a killing out of the Loli fanbase] are Lalafells/Tarutaru. They are small races that tend to look more like children but they are certainly not sexualized like Elin are and they appear serious when you find them within quests. There's a reason why the term "Elin Honey" came to be.

http://imgur.com/a/YzuqK

A simple Google Image search shows the extreme differences in fanbase and outlook.

Flimflamberge
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Flimflamberge

Addendum to point 3: How do I hide your UI, and can I use first person view? While we're at it, do you have any extra camera controls that can help really perfect our screens?

DamnDirtyApe
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DamnDirtyApe

"
4. What’s the most popular class?
Frankly, I’m terrified of playing the most popular class in an MMO if
for nothing else than I think it increases the odds that developers
will think that it’s overpowered (massively, even) and nerf it to the
ground. Plus, I’d rather take the road less traveled and not be part a
swarm of identical professions."
Counterpoint: Hunters

Gottphoenix
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Gottphoenix

Originally, I had a couple but there is actually one that needs to be answered first:

▓ - Do you respect your customer and value his time and money, or are you willingly putting grindy treadmills up that you want him to overcome by paying, willingly put great items in gamble boxes to maximize profits from addicts and willingly monetize flaws of your game instead of trying to fix them.

If I knew what Trion would've become, i would never have started Rift back then when it was a great game. Does anyone of you still remember the decent account upgrades for around 6 dollars that gave you a spider mount, a pet and some other perk? It's unbelievable how amazing value rift was during its sub days and how it was possible for such a big 180 turn to happen to it.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

But... but I really like jumping puzzles.

Robenix
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Robenix

My big "question" is whether or not the UI looks decent. Text, windows, hotbars, damage floaters, etc.

Mimiros
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Mimiros

ManastuUtakata SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably Mimiros

Did they black out my comment?

Rohirrim
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Rohirrim

Only lotro managed to do this right...

schlag sweetleaf
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schlag sweetleaf

ManastuUtakata SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably Mimiros

Sir mysk seems to be"killing it with fire" ;) I assume it was the post of Mimiros that may have been edited.

And please 'Uta, Mr. Sweetleaf  was my father's name.You can call me Schlag.

ShinIgami1
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ShinIgami1

Ohh ten questions before deciding a game is worth my time... (in no particular order of priority)

1) How fast and effective the dev team deal with botters/exploiters? (if they ever deal with them) I will never play a game full of global chat bot spamfest. I'm fine with shit-talking though, at least there is people.

2) Is there auto-walk-to-quest-and-complete feature? If yes then I'm not playing this game, or letting the game play me!

3) How toxic/elitist is the community? High toxicity = a big no. I usually goes to forum to check this.

4) Does the PvP affects PvE class balance changes? This irks me a lot, I don't wanna have my PvE OPness nerfed just because of some stupid PvP reasons.

5) Please tell me there is housing, and it is not limited to cash-shop only. I'm okay with a pleb house, as long as it is still a house. I hope.

6) BAG SPACE. B A G S P A C E. Do you give enough initial bag space appropriate for the amount of junk lots I will get during my journey? Is the bag space only expandable through cash-shop? This is a BIG ISSUE. It really decides whether I drop a game or not, e.g. I dropped Rift because of this, (even if it has housing) but I'm still having fun in Trove.

7) Is the combat fun and responsive? I don't mind tab-targeting combat, but I must feel superior and clever when I smash down those petty foes. Also global cooldown like Rift and FF14 turns me off.

8) Is the crafting useful and creative? I LOVE CRAFTING. Even Tera and Neverwinter have awesome combat, their crafting system really turns me away. I don't mind grindy crafting system like LOTRO, but I must feel engaging and the items I make can be useful to others if not myself.

9) Do the game punishes you for solo adventures? In other words, how disadvantaged you are if you are not in a party, or a guild? I love to have the occasional solo time, and not feeling terrible when I'm doing so. However, if the game has really good grouping system I will still consider it.

10) Can I participate in the economy/auction house game(both buying AND selling) if I'm f2p? I'm fine if it is low-level gated, or only given a small amount of slots. Rift turns me off because it essentially locks its economy on high level. (yeah you can buy that thing to unlock for a small amount blah blah blah, and that thing costs a lot of game time if not small amount of money) The truth is I'm not going to spend any money in any games until I feel comfortable doing so. I don't want to become rich through economy, I just want to be able to sell that occasional rare loot I got (which I can't use) for a decent amount, instead of tossing it away.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably Mimiros 
"Media is no longer visible." Mr. Sweetleaf thought it was okay whatever it was. :(

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

"2. Will I have a choice of weapons?
The newer trend in MMOs it seems is to give each class a fixed weapon type instead of a range. Not every game subscribes to that (lazy) school of design, so if your MMO gives my character a choice in weapon types, then this I would like to know very much."
I suppose you already know WoW is going that direction come Legion too.

That said, my extracurricular question has always been, "Can I roll something small, pink and pigtailed?" I am pretty sure that's not going to make anyone's 11th question though. :(

Deathage
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Deathage

modulooblongata but pc is better

modulooblongata
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modulooblongata

For me, the question is: "Does it have a Mac client?"

And before some knuckledragger chimes in with that repetitive "but but PCs are better gaming machines!" nonsense-- shut up. Nobody cares what you think. I do dev work on my iMac, and it's more convenient for me to load up a game natively rather than restart in Bootcamp. A game is only as good as its client, and my Mac can run games better than any Windows machine I've ever owned, given a non-buggy client.

Best example of a Mac client I've seen is ESO. That game runs marvelously, and it gets all my respect for that. GW2's Mac client, on the other hand, is unusable trash. I'll use Bootcamp if I have to (it isn't a dealbreaker), but I'm more likely to play a game if the developers actually recognize an expanding market and, you know, do something about it rather than stick their heads in the sand.

Layla Littlenymph
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Layla Littlenymph

Jumping Puzzles? Spare me, please. :(

I share some of the same concerns as Justin, by our order of importance is different.

1. In game Community: Is your player base friendly, helpful, and polite, or is a breeding ground for Trolls, spammers, and gold sellers? Is your in-game community moderated, or a giant free for all? I have left many a great game for no other reason than I found the community to be unbearable.

2. Supporting Forum: Do you have an "official forum" for the community to gather? Is it well maintained and updated to include patch notes, or will I be forced to glean needed information from Facebook, Twitter, and so on? Does the forum community meet the same standards as I outlined for the in-game community in #1, above?

3. User Interface: A great game can be ruined by a poor UI. Likewise, a mediocre game can actually be rather entertaining if the UI is versatile as well as easily managed understandable.

4. Character Versatility: How much option do I have in character generation, both in terms of appearance as well as skills? How much versatility is there within the same class type?

5. PvP: What are your PvP elements? Overworld? Arena? None?

6. Quests and Story Line: Is this game entertaining enough to level by simply playing through some interesting material, or am I going to spend part of my time grinding? How much time?

7. Storage: Tell me about your storage options.

8. Playstyle: Is this a must find a guild or group in order to play type of game, or can some of it be accomplished through solo play? 

9: Secondary (optional) Content: Does this game have secondary content such as mini games or housing?

10: Are you P2W? My definition of pay to win is simply this. Will I have to purchase extra upgrades, skills, items, or so forth, above and beyond any base costs such as a sub in order to achieve end game content?

Tsiya
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Tsiya

donweel Especially if they have classes built around kiting...

Tsiya
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Tsiya

Mind Flayer 2. Agreed. I have to play a human IRL, don't want it in my escape.

Khalith
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Khalith

My major question now that I've played FFXIV: How pervasive are the RMT? I've played some games where I never really noticed them, ones where I got contact from them occasionally, then I played FFXIV where the RMT render tells/whispers completely unusable because they spam the same message 10-15 times a minute with no way to easily right click and report them.

As a result to play the game I have completely turned off whispers out of necessity.  I really hate the fact that I had to do that.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

The only "weird" question I find myself asking is...What are the hair selection options like? I hate playing an online game with poor player customizations, specifically the hair. LOL

Estranged
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Estranged

The jumping puzzles would be my thing. Those are made for a controller, not mouse and keyboard. Think Nintendo. Freaking holocrons.

blackcat7k
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blackcat7k

What kind of security are you using to monitor accounts? Do GMs actually have the tools to police the title and render assistance?

How is your billing system handled?

Where are your servers located?

How much of the keyboard can be bound to functions within your title? Are there any keybinds that are off limits and what is the reasoning for it?

Mooncalling
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Mooncalling

Just a few things here and there-

1)  Does your UI suck?  Is so, can I mod the ever-living snot out of it so it doesn't suck?  Can I at least move things around and resize them?

2)  Did more work go into your boob jiggle physics engine than the entire rest of the game?  Have your animators ever actually seen real female breasts in action?  Do they know that they are not made of sentient jello that moves independently of the character's body?
2b) When clad for battle, is your full plate armor still not enough to contain the aforementioned boob jigglage?

3) Can I get a rainbow unicorn mount?  Flying or ground, it matters not, I just want one.

Nanulak
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Nanulak

For me it is all about the interface.  There are many games that look interesting but if the UI is not well done and I find my hand / wrist aching after a short period of game play I am forced to move on.  I find games where everything has to be clicked on a total waste of my time.  I call it the click factor.  if it is high I quit immediately, medium I may try it a while and let the overall game suck me in or not.  A low click factor has a much better chance of retaining me in game regardless or if it is a great game or not.

Loopstah
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Loopstah

For me it's:
1. Does the MMO have open seamless world, or at least giant zones with minimal loading screens?
2. What level does the instanced group content begin?
3. What is the fidelity of your graphics engine?
4. Am i able to participate in all activities without some ridiculous gating mechanism or grind?
5. How deep/immersive is your story? Should i be expecting cliche galore (cough Skyforge cough)?

johnmynard
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johnmynard

Wratts Those two are separate issues. 
Wildstar has disappointed me at the complete lack of bikini armor, the booty shorts being the only "exception".  Given their attitude in the rest of the game and general level of silly, neverminding the sci-fi setting that could be excuse away such armor as being reinforced by forcefields and what not, it's a trifle offputting. 
Note, I'm not saying don't have a full range of armor, just support the full range of tastes.  My paladin in wow runs around in full armor, while my hunter is typically wearing as little as she can get away with.  Also, I'm not saying don't provide equal opportunity for beefcake along with the cheesecake.  But a little skin is nice.
The "Elin Problem" is only a problem if you let it be.  While the loli factor is high with these types of races, I've never really seen one portrayed as being overtly sexualized.  This is generally in the eye of the beholder.  But maybe I just watch too much anime and see the Elin as being "Moe Moe Desu!" bait instead of perv bait.  Though frankly the two aren't separated by much.

Ekphrasis
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Ekphrasis

For me,
1) is: 'Did you design your game with player FUN in mind at every stage?'
Some may think that's such an obvious question that it doesn't need to be asked but how many times have we all come across features that induce a 'who thought this was a good idea?' type of reaction? Some game mechanics are in place to extend your time there (raids, random drop chance, daily missions etc.) and while I don't think we can ever get away from them completely, as long as they're still fun and not poorly disguised grind/treadmills then it's all good.
2) Is your game accessible and intuitive? I don't mean payment model, I mean can I get a wide range of people interested, not be scared off by a clunky UI and really figure out how the game works without needing a buddy explain everything?

playerxx
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playerxx

1)Do you have a cash shop?

2)No you don't need to tell me '' Yes, but we will only sell some cosmetic stuff''- C'mon, we both know that's a lie.

3)How does your game stand out from the rest of it's kind?

4)How much is PVP the focus of your game?

5)How versatile are the quests? Are there like 10 interesting quests and the rest of 90 quests are '' kill 10 rats, pigs, mailmen, neighbour next door''

6)Do you have puzzles?

7)Does the game have humor?

8)Does the game has sex? Ok ok, just joking

9)How much must I play to get best gear and level max and have acces to all content?

SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably
Guest
SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably

Mimiros

SpookyDonkey24
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SpookyDonkey24

BryanCo Archeage finally broke that requirement for me.  Even though I didn't stay long, it saved me from having to worry about this any more.

Mimiros
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Mimiros

"Or some other random key hiding in a forest of clones on my keyboard," are you talking about semen here? If not, what?

BryanCo
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BryanCo

Wratts BryanCo  Too late for me, I ain't going back in there.

donweel
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donweel

one other thing that annoys me is leashing, you are in an intense battle and have the mob almost down and step back too far, boing, the monster snaps back to it's hook point and has full health.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

From your list, #8 and #10 I agree with; I won't even start playing if I feel like I will be forever stuck behind or if I believe the game might end before I want to leave on my own. #7 is why I only start playing a MMO if I believe I will have fun even
if I never play with anyone else; before I get first hand experience
with it I will always assume the community is atrocious and noxious. #6 and #9, I don't have issues finding info, so while I do care about
finding it while I'm a player, I don't really look into how easy it is
to find that info before I start playing. #1 to #4 I don't really care. And #5, well, I love jumping puzzles, so I also want to know it but for the opposite reason.

I would add:

- Is PvP truly optional? If I either can't opt out of PvP, or if the game tries to make me feel like a second class player for opting out of PvP, I won't even give it a second glance.

- How does speccing, and respeccing, works? I don't even consider playing games where real money can purchase respecs, and apart from that if I ever feel like I want to respec, but can't, I will immediately leave the game.

- Does it have forced grouping, including raiding? If it does, how are groups assembled? I doubt I will ever raid again, so I tend to avoid games where the best gear can only be obtained from raids, and while I might play smaller group content I will absolutely not sit in some town spamming LFG or LFM messages in some chat, so without some kind of automated LFG tool I will almost never play group content.

- Are there long stretches of time where the player is basically waiting, such as traveling using WoW's taxi system? If I find myself without anything to do too often, I'm very prone to just uninstall the game.

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