The Daily Grind: Where do you stand on wiki-reliant MMORPGs?

The Daily Grind: Where do you stand on wiki-reliant MMORPGs?

MOP reader Alex recently wrote to us about MMOs that seem to be built around their wikis – and why that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Personally, I spend a lot of time on wikis of all types, and am comfortable with the format,” he says. “But there is an underlying assumption amongst many in the MMO crowd that game wikis are a poor supplement to game tutorials: that they’re a lazy way for a game to teach you about how it works. Good examples of this include Warframe’s vast, vast wiki or something a little more refined like EVE University’s wiki.”

“But the truth is, I actually love learning about a game on a wiki. My brain often moves laterally, and I enjoy the rabbit-hole journeys it goes on when learning about associated items that seem totally tangential to what I originally was researching. Is there a case to be made for the game wiki as its own standalone-value thing? Is there some art to it? Complex games often seem to require wikis to supplement what might be impossible to communicate in a tutorial. But is that just an excuse for bad design? I’m honestly undecided.”

I’m rather torn on an answer because it always irritates me when basic (or even granular) game information not only is left to the players to organize but fails to be intrinsic to the game itself. On the other hand, keeping wikis updated – at least when the game is thriving – is itself a pro-community activity, and the truth is wikis are often set up the way I think, and I love them for research and learning about a game as Alex does. I’ve even done some stealth updating on some for games I love!

What do you think about wiki-reliant MMORPGs or MMOs that simply need some sort of external community information repository?

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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Jim Bergevin Jr

I was going to come here and say I hate games that make you have to go to outside resources in order to figure things out – all the info you need should be included within the game world. But then I realized that wikis are now just extensions of the good old user manual and Prima Game Guide.

I remember back in the day after unwrapping a new game, the first thing I would do, even before installing the game was read through the manual so I could learn how to play the game. And I was never without my official Game Guide when I was playing if there was one that had been published for the game. We’ve been kind of spoiled with in game tutorials nowadays. When I fired up the first Civilization game last year to play it for the first time, I kept waiting for the tutorial information to begin, but realized this was from the Golden Age, so had to open up the PDF manual for the game in order to really start playing it. I actually kind of miss those days. Heck I was still using the guides that were published for Guild Wars first two campaigns and was disappointed that the third campaign didn’t have a similar guide. It was then I was really introduced to the concept of a wiki and fan sites that provided the information that I was used to getting from the physical game manual and guide.

So at the end of the day, I guess I have to say that I *shouldn’t* really mind having to go to a third party source outside of the game to figure something out, or learn a tip or trick to completing a particularly troublesome quest. It’s pretty much what I did for the first 15-20 years of my gaming life, so nothing’s really changed!


This whole question leaves me a bit confused…..I’ve never played any game that is reliant on a wiki!

Or maybe I did, but I didn’t require the wiki?

Mechanics are learnt from playing the game, right? Sometimes the game tells you what those mechanics are, but mostly you can just experiment and figure stuff out. Thats part of learning how to play a game. Thats how you get good.

Content is…..all in the game right? If its not in the game, then the content isn’t part of the game….So what is on the wiki? Deeper explanations of the content? Extra lore? That makes it optional, not something that the game relies on.

If you’re struggling with something in game, thats when you speak to your fellow players, asking for advice. Right? If you are too shy to speak to other people, are MMOs really for you? Then there are always official forums. If you’re not in game and can’t ask other players, head to the forums and ask there. Thats what they are for.

So, what are these wikis for and why are games reliant on them? If someone could help me understand that I’d appreciate it!


I don’t mind wiki reading at all. I read wikis for fun anyway.

Kero Kero

Warframe -.- I don’t mind it personally but I think it’s bad design when not even basic info like what status effects do or how a weapon works even at the most bottom level is shown. Wiki should be there for context and granularity or obscure info when it conflicts with presentability and clutter issues. But some games take it way too far and just tell you NOTHING instead which is annoying.

source: I spend more time out of game learning about stuff than in game playing them.

Kickstarter Donor

If I “need” to go to wiki’s, I largely view the game as a failure. Not for stuff like optimal builds and whatnot, but if basic/core mechanics need me to leave the game to learn about them then the game has dun goofed.

Wiki’s are great, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I’ll go down that rabbit hole or I’ll just use it to brush up on/confirm some bits, but if I ever NEED to go there to learn about basic mechanics then I’m usually out of the game.

Kickstarter Donor

I agree; it’s the word “reliant” which is key here.

Star Trek Online has STOWiki, and it’s very useful to employ its Search feature to look up weird details of the game you may be curious about, but you don’t need to go there to play the game and to have a good time.

Conversely, I reluctantly stopped playing Elder Scrolls Online entirely because after a month-plus of internet “research”, I couldm’t find an accessible build listing which allowed my double-dagger and bow Nightblade (i.e. rogue) to survive the single-player boss fights past the end of the Orsinium content.

I didn’t want to quit ESO, but I suddenly felt like I was doing “homework” instead of having fun, and I didn’t want to spend my play time that way.

Like you intimate, the fact that ESO couldn’t keep me apprised of how to make it through their single-play content on default difficulty felt like it had failed to communicate basic gameplay on some level.

My opinions only, of course,



I guess it depends on their definition of “reliant”. If it is used to complement your experience with the game, like you want to learn about something extra but not mandatory, then I feel it’s fine. If you have to tab out for nearly everything you do to check a wiki, then it’s just poor game design.

I’m surprised that after everything I’ve read, WoW hasn’t been mentioned (yet) and I feel this is one of the most wiki and third-party website reliant game out there.

WoW has their lore spread across their game, books, and comics, with constant retconning happening, that you would have no choice but to rely on wikis to get all information organized. However, you have a portion of the playerbase that don’t read the books or the comics and focus strictly on the game, thus getting confused from the lack of info, misinformed by retcons or other players who don’t know as well, because there would be gaps in the lore from some side or back-story that had happened in the background that you’d have to learn about from the books.

Then there’s actually playing the game. To maximize performance of a class, you have to rely on websites/wikis to learn ability rotation, what stats to use, dps theorycrafting , figure out quests whose instructions were too cryptic..etc. I should be able to have whatever necessary info available to me in-game to figure out anything. I should be able to use whatever abilities given to me and learn my rotation as I level. One may be surprised how much of their game time is spent tabbed out of the game vs. in the game.


The question becomes or should become, “What do you mean by reliant?” As there are some players that will need to be reliant of 3rd party sourced information regardless of how well the game is explained in it’s design. And that’s not really the fault of the developers.

Furthermore, a truly well designed games are ones that doesn’t want to give out too much information anyway as it could spoil the experience of it.


I like wikis, but if a game’s going to be wiki-reliant then I prefer it if the company provides or at least funds hosting (the intrusive ads and anti-adblocker measures on places like are really annoying when I’m trying to find and absorb information) and there’s a link to the wiki from the game’s official pages so that newer players know where to go.

The best implementation I’ve personally seen is GW2, where they not only host an official wiki but there’s a “/wiki” command to look stuff up directly from chat.

Demon of Razgriz
Demon of Razgriz

Since returning to CoH, I’ve found myself pulling up Paragon Wiki while I’m playing and I’m glad that I can. From simple navigation to memory refreshment, I’m glad it’s still around and relevant again.


I like wikis for digging deep into lore or refreshing my memory on the story after a break. In some games it’s hard to keep track of all the interwoven threads when some piece of information may only be given once, and if you aren’t paying close attention you’ve missed it forever.

I don’t think wikis should ever be necessary for figuring out how the mechanics of the game work. That stuff needs to be present in-game.