Ages ago, there was a tiny little Chinese import MMO called Zentia. I have little cause to talk about it nowadays, since hardly anyone this side of the Pacific will even remember it, but when Changyou ported it here, I was absolutely smitten. I’d never played anything exactly like it; it was whimsical, it had adorable mounts galore, and after level 20 it absurdly turned into cutthroat PvP. (Look, nothing’s scarier than a giant baby bashing your face in.)
It was also my first real experience with automated play in online games. Now, it seems to me that every time someone utters the word “automated play” or “auto-anything,” MMORPG players lose their minds, so hold that thought and lemme finish. In Zentia, the automation was pretty basic; you just clicked on your next quest and the game would attempt to pilot you toward it. It didn’t always succeed, and sometimes it ran you through a pack of angry mobs, but in general, it allowed you to chat and take in the scenery whilst heading off for your next quest, not unlike, say, riding a griffon line between cities. You still had to do all the fighting once you got there. And the automation allowed for fun stuff too, like giant conga lines following an NPC through the city.
On the other hand, I’ve played some other MMOs with automated gameplay – especially in mobile MMOs – where I had to keep asking myself what value I was actually adding to my account because I was expected to do so very little.
Where do you stand on automated gameplay in MMOs? Are you completely against it – both ways uphill in the snow for you? Are you totally for it – the less busywork you have to complete, the better? Or are you like me – somewhere in between, feeling like it depends on the context and the game?
And as a bonus question, did anybody out there love Zentia as much as I did?