Perfect Ten: My MMO hate list
One thing that I strive for in my professional career is basing things on sources more robust than my own biases. That’s not to say I believe I can remain entirely dispassionate and objective at all times; it just means that while I might have my biases, I need more than just that bias to say something is good or bad. I may not like gender-locked classes, for example, but if a game with gender-locked classes does well for itself, there’s more going on there and it’s worth examining.
But sometimes you just need to rant about stuff.
Hence, this list. This is not an objective list in any way, shape, or form. These are just things that tick me off about MMOs and have always ticked me off about MMOs, and their absence will often give me a more positive impression of a game no matter how little it may be justified. In the words of George Carlin, I don’t have pet peeves; I have major psychotic [REDACTED] hatreds, and it makes the world a lot easier to sort out.
1. Official forums
Forums are inevitable. Forums are going to happen. But official forums aren’t something I’ve ever cared for much, especially as they turn into ever-more-toxic cesspools filled with people who get in solely on the basis of spending money on the game to complain about the game. Annoying enough in and of itself, but it’s always complaining about the dumbest things.
And it’s somehow made all the worse by the fact that these are, again, the official forums. It’s like walking into someone’s living room and then claiming that they don’t like you. You’re being given a space to talk, and what you use it for is complaining and whining about every little change.
It’s not just that the complaints are dumb. It’s that somewhere there are actual good ideas being drowned under a tide of rampant nonsense. And since the official forums are, well, official, the voices of sanity and community wind up never really branching off to form more intelligent debates. So it’s all the negatives of the days before official forums, and it brings a whole crop of shiny new problems, too.
Also, half of your forums require me to register separately while still requiring me to use my game account information. What the hell, people.
2. Half of the terminology in our hobby
I’m not talking about terms that no longer mean anything or have no good use left; I’ve covered those. I’m talking about the fact that half of our chat looks like someone dying of terminal vowel deficiency. And severe head trauma. I don’t care if it’s “just chat”; hitting the Shift key is not an arduous task, nor is using punctuation.
Yes, I know where the term “mob” comes from. It’s still stupid. You cannot convince me that there’s an advantage to typing “mob” over “enemy” or “target” or “bag of hit points” or anything else. The word “mob” has an actual meaning, and one boar does not count as a mob. (A group of them doesn’t either; it’s a sounder. That’s your fun fact for the day!)
You can also type something other than “toon” like, say, character. Are you being called away for open-heart surgery in a moment? Are those extra letters going to ruin your day? On a related note, “GG” does not mean “goodbye” and “qq” actually means “I have no observation here other than the fact that you are upset but want to mock you and see my name in chat again.” I’d say we’re not all 13 years old, but I didn’t like this stuff when I was 13, and I sure as hell don’t like it now.
3. Pet classes
We’re going to use Final Fantasy XI as an example here because that’s the game with the class that really crystalized this loathing. Every job in FFXI has a special talent. Dragoons have a bond with a wyvern and the ability to jump for damage, along with being masters of the spear. Samurai use a weapon no one else can use effectively and can focus their minds into weapons, allowing them to create elaborate webs of weaponskills no other job can match. White Mages can cause wounds and ailments to vanish with unmatched potency.
And Beastmasters can… tame an animal. So they can ask someone else to do something.
Asking someone else to do something is not a talent. It’s begging. Getting wild animals to fight one another, something animals are pretty well inclined to do anyway, means that the animal is the one doing the work. You’re just standing there and stealing from it. You are literally less useful than a helper because you are actively getting your pet to do all of the work.
If you’re a purely pet-centered class, then why not just play the pet who’s doing all of this stuff? At least City of Heroes said “this is dumb” and actually made its pet class have a whole damn army to fight through. Commanding an army is a talent. Commanding a dog is not. If the dog is the one who’s doing all the work, your character is the pet.
4. Short races
All right, people, it’s time to sit down and have a serious discussion about this. I see far too many people playing the Designated Short Race in games where it’s an option. And it’s always the DSR, not just “races shorter than average.” I don’t have a problem with, say, Dwarves in World of Warcraft. But then we get to those of you playing a Lalafell in Final Fantasy XIV, and we’ve got a problem. Because you always seem to fall into one of three categories.
The “I Am So Cute” squad: Listen, buckaroo, nothing makes something not cute so fast as being told over and over how cute it is. Cuteness thrives when it isn’t forced. Quaggan are cute; Asura are not. Kittens don’t jump in your face and speak in perfect English about how cute they are. Thus far, the only person I’ve seen successfully manage the “really cute” status almost by accident is longstanding MOP commenter Utakata and her pink pigtails. She gets to keep her race. The rest of you need to rely on something other than childlike proportions.
The “I Am A Tiny Force Of Nature” squad: This group seems to think that what makes playing a tiny race great is that you’re physically powerful when no one expects it. “Everyone expects the huge races to be a physical threat,” you say. And that’s true. Do you know why? Because it makes sense. You are basically playing Yoda at the end of Attack of the Clones. Remember how stupid that was? It was stupid because it missed the whole point. That’s your character basis. Great work.
The “I Don’t Take The Game Too Seriously” squad: See next item.
5. People who don’t take the game seriously
Here’s the problem: No one who says this is saying it because of a couple of jokes. No, this comes from the guy who taunts things off of the tank despite having a health bar measured in picometers. This is the healer who keeps letting people die because he’s too busy dealing damage, or the teammate in PvP who just keeps charging in the exact wrong direction and feeding the other team kills. “It’s just a game, don’t take it so seriously!”
The problem isn’t taking it seriously here; the problem is taking it with the minimal seriousness necessary to actually accomplish something. I love screwing around with games as much as the next guy, up to the point where my brother and I have timed out on New Super Mario Bros. stages because we were too busy picking one another up and flinging each other into pits. It was really funny. But that was with two friends, not a bunch of strangers, and it was by agreement. When we wanted to actually clear something, we stopped screwing around and focused on playing the game.
Congratulations, you don’t take the game too seriously. But you don’t play Scrabble by making illegal words and then claim you’re not taking it seriously. If that happens, no one wants to play Scrabble with you any more. Respect the time and attention of other people, dude.
6. People who take the game way too damn seriously
What, you thought this was the side I fell on? Please; this is just as bad as not taking the game seriously at all.
This comes in many flavors, and every single one of them is dumb. The old tabletop equivalent was Game Smart, Life Stupid, a guy who knew every D&D spell by heart but couldn’t find his home state on a map. That exists in MMOs, too, as does the guy who basically runs everything with an intensity level more suitable for the climax of a Rocky film or the lady who insists that having better gear makes you a better person.
My least favorite within the ocean of stupid, though, is the person who does not get the idea that the highest edge of content in the game is basically irrelevant. Content that 95% of the playerbase does not see may as well not matter at all in terms of balance or serious consideration. If most players never see it, who cares? Most players won’t encounter it at all. If you tell me “this class is useless because once you get into best-in-slot territory it scales badly,” what you’re really telling me is that in the game of ego-stroking that only a tiny number of players participate in, something doesn’t look as good as it does in the remainder of the game.
Your elite hardcore raid group is not the majority of the game. It’s not even the most dedicated group of players in the game. It’s a minority of a minority.
This is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Yes, you owe it to yourself and others to make the effort required to have a reasonable chance of victory, but you also owe it to yourself and others to not be a humorless elitist toolbox. There are a lot of other points on the scale. Try some of those.
7. Fake ‘insight’
This is the stuff that people clearly think is some enormous shocking revelation when it’s immediately obvious to anyone with firing neurons and a pulse. You know that guy who gets stoned and exclaims with shock that you’re naked under your clothes? He’s inhibited by pot. What’s your excuse?
“All of the stuff you’re doing is going to be obsolete in five months when new gear gets released!” Thanks, genius, that’s why I’m doing this now instead of five months from now, so that doing it again in five months will be easier. “You’re just repeating the same cycle!” Yes, just like every time I fire up a Metroid game I’m following the same cycle of acquiring power-ups, beating bosses, and then clearing the game. “You aren’t going to be automatically ganked in open PvP!” I would like to never be ganked at all under any circumstances, thanks, that’s why I don’t like open PvP.
Here’s the reality: If people are doing something, they have most likely realized what they’re doing and what the implications are and have good reasons for doing it. You may not agree with those reasons, but you can at least start from assuming that those reasons exist. Heck, you can ask before dropping your “insights” on someone. Insight is a great thing, but let’s remember that the central horror wasn’t shouting that Soylent Green is made of people; it’s that everyone heard and didn’t care in the first place.
First of all, that term looks stupid no matter how you format it. We accepted a format and we stick with it but every variety looks dumber than using your mattress as a sled. That doesn’t help things.
Even without that, though… man, the reason I dislike football is not the rules of the game; it’s the collection of relentless egos, nasty behavior, drug addiction, and unearned celebrity. And now we can get all of that in the middle of video games, something that I liked having no association with that nonsense! How could I go wrong?
Beyond that (and I have to move beyond that because I’ve already made my point and from here I just repeat the same points with more profanity unless I do), it sucks down resources and development attention. Do you know how much time and money Guild Wars 2 sank into making the game into an e-sport? I don’t either, but I’m going to bet it wasn’t no $3.50. And that worked out real well when the whole thing collapsed, didn’t it? Bree thinks it’s a matter of critical mass, but I’m increasingly wondering if a commenter from weeks ago didn’t have the right idea that there’s not so much an e-sports scene as a few games that the same basic community latches on to. You don’t see people scampering to Hockey II Super Tournament Edition or whatever.
Fun thing is, though, that it doesn’t actually matter which one of us is right because we’ve seen it repeated multiple times. Putting money into making something a popular e-sport is e-moronic. It doesn’t e-work. It’s a waste of real money in pursuit of e-popularity that usually doesn’t earn much goodwill among your actual e-players.
It also seems tailor-made to avoid all of the benefits that actual professional sports offer, such as… well, an uptick in domestic abuse cases, I guess? And Terry Crews. Terry Crews is pretty wonderful.
9. Server queues
Here we are, a bit more than a month out from the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion, and I’m excited. I want it. I want to play it. I don’t want to sit in endless chains of login queues just to get in and play the game because they’re seriously frustrating as hell. They’re too short to leave and do something else, they’re too long to avoid filling me with rage, and they’re just annoying all the way around.
Yes, I recognize that there’s not really much to be done about it. Who was talking about doing something about it? This is a hate list, not an action plan.
10. Self-appointed defense squads
It’s like the sun rising in the morning. When you say something negative about a game, factual or not, justified or not, regardless of any and all extenuating circumstances, people will jump in to defend it with a ferocity usually reserved for their favorite athletic teams during championship seasons. How dare anyone imply that World of Warcraft has never really recovered from the subscription loss it experienced at the start of Cataclysm, or that The Secret World has awful combat, or that Final Fantasy XIV has a lot of story quests to go through.
Guys, seriously, Blizzard is not going to be your friend because you say nice things about World of Warcraft. If someone says something negative about the game, rather than jumping to the defense of the multi-million-dollar title, maybe you should take a step back and figure out if it’s accurate first? Just an idea. These games do not need you to defend them, and you actually look worse for doing it.
This is a game. It’s not your identity. Someone can say negative things about your game, accurate or otherwise, and you can just move on with your life. Heck, you might as well have a sense of humor about it. If someone tells me that Final Fantasy XIV has a bunch of story quests to get through, well, that’s true. I consider that a positive thing, I agree that some of the patches and parts of the game are gratuitous about it, and I’m not going to be sad if that drives you off from the game.
It’s a game. It’s not my life. It’s not part of my identity. People can make fun of the games I love or even be wrong about them without it affecting my life in the slightest. They’re games. I don’t feel the need to defend against every perceived potential slight because I’m more secure than that.
If you don’t own stock in the company and don’t design the game, you have no need to defend it. And even if you do, you probably don’t need to defend it.