The Daily Grind: Where do you stand on automated gameplay in MMOs?

    
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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?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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GiantsBane

Honestly I never had this rabid hatred that seems to be the popular srance towards automation in gaming or anywhere else.

That said, I do have to wonder about the flawed game design that we keep following that makes people feel a need to automate things. Like, why have super tedious, but necessary things incorporated into the game that people might want to automate?

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Dilly Dolly

I haven’t played MMOs with any automation but it is very common especially in Chinese MMOs.

My aunt is playing a mobile MMO (Perfect World mobile?) which she always has its automated mode on (it auto attacks, auto farms), then there are some quests which automation doesn’t work, she asked me for help so I was able to play the game for a bit :D.

There are 3 classes I know currently the warrior, wizard, and healer.

The healer does very well on automated farming/boss fight while the other 2 not, they die eventually (the Holy Trinity blesses you).

I’ve seen auto piloting a norm in Chinese MMO it actually saves lots of time finding everything in the unfamiliar virtual open world.

For me it’s up to the developer to include automation in their games and I don’t want to play an MMO on the phone.

LITF
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LITF

It’s a complex topic.
Simple answer is no, games should be something you play as a human, not something played for you.

Complex answer is: yes in small amounts when and where appropriate. For example, the autopilot for travel is good in an mmo where traversal takes substantial amount of time due to the scale of the game world. Sure it’s fun to do that 15 minute journey for the first few times, soak in the scenery, get your bearings. But when you routinely travel 15 minutes or more away it gets tedious and there is little actual gameplay involved, and there is no quick travel in the game. So in a case like this yes, it is appropriate and has place for it. Auto restocking crafting components from vendor/bank when crafting may be nice too, if crafting is done via just entering a number and pressing craft. Nobody wants to babysit their character for half an hour just looking at repetitive animation of crafting. But still, there is no “one” answer. In some games it’s appropriate and fitting, in some not. And that’s only talking about light automation.

For heavy automation you gotta ask a question – if this part of the game is so bad that it requires/makes you want to use automation, should it be in the game to start with? Automation that exists to bypass entire game systems is bad. Quality of life automation for little things is fine, given context.

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socontrariwise

Haha I remember Zentia and the Afk dance lines. Definitely had its moments.

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Castagere Shaikura

Sometimes you want an easy mode MMO to play. I like a lot of these anime MMO’s that are like this. And they always have something that I wish western MMO’s would have. Like duel class systems or one character being able to play all classes on the fly. Free Realms was the only western MMO that I can recall doing this.

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Witches

Automation is usually an option, you have to decide to use it, it’s rarely something that is on by default, and even if it was there would always be the option of turning it off.

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Anton Mochalin

A fully automated videogame is a true video-game as it’s totally indistinguishable from a video of its gameplay.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I love automation. If I can take something arbitrary and obnoxious and make it better with a little AutoHotKey and a shell script, I will.

Of course I won’t use these things to outright cheat someone (Unless I’m dealing with something personal). My needs are usually well within the gray line. I didn’t automate my combat or farming in EQ, but all that wrist-straining click-and-drag at the crafting station? I ran that crap by script and will not apologize.

We scripted our raid healing in WoW until they banned it, and I was fine with that, but some things that the tinkerers and particularly the physically disabled come up with actually serve to advance our game interfaces and systems.

I remember hearing about Zentia in passing a time or two, but never looked into it.

Carlo Lacsina
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Carlo Lacsina

Very refreshing interpretation. Ive been patiently waiting for BDO mobile so I’ve been playing Lineage Revolution to scratch the itch. I didnt like it at first, but the busier I got the more helpful it became. Its pretty useful tapping that button and then do a lesson plan or something.

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Pandalulz

Remove auto-attacks. Push the button EVERY TIME!

deekay_000
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deekay_000

my favourite part of swtor’s innvoative new combat system was developing carpal tunnel.

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GamingSF

For games like BDO I do like the autopathing between places and NPCs. the game expects a lot of semi-active participation what with the large travel distances and the worker system, so it’s a nice balance to have the game do some of the movement for you.