Global Chat: Do numbers rob MMOs of fun?

Global Chat: Do numbers rob MMOs of fun?

Have developers and players grown so used to mechanics and number crunching that we’ve collectively lost something important along the way? That’s the concern that Leo has in a thoughtful essay that provokes a perspective shift.

“At some point, the RPG went from ROLE playing to NUMBER playing,” MMO blog Leo’s Life posted. “Sure, the P&P games always had numbers (THAC0 was my bane), but they were more indicators than absolutes (the quad power gain of wizards is a thing long gone). The dice had a major impact, and with a solid DM, you could act your way through a ton of content. When’s the last time you saw a Bard trick a dragon to killing their mate because they thought there were planning to usurp them? That sort of insanity is only found on paper.”

Tales of the Aggronaut: Minecraft without the mining or crafting

Minecraft Dungeons is a game in the Minecraft universe, but effectively has nothing at all to do with the gameplay of the baseline game. It is instead a top-down isometric dungeon crawler that just happens to feature the primitive graphics of Minecraft.”

The Ancient Gaming Noob: Tough act to follow

“As I noted above, my enjoyment of Legion might very well have shaded my reception of BFA. Maybe. More certainly, my time spent with Wrath of the Lich King, where I played from the last few months of The Burning Crusade and straight through the whole time it was live, made me less receptive to Cataclysm.”

Inventory Full: The way you wear your hat in Guild Wars 2

“Which is when I was reminded all over again just how irritating GW2’s clothing options can be. First I had to select all six items separately from a list of eighteen, all with very similar names and icons, being extremely careful not to misclick and end up with the wrong weight or slot, which would mean another week to get the right one.”

Contact and lenses.

24 Hours In: Star Trek Online

“The KDF intro is fast paced and it’s funny, well written and well voice acted, and provides a crash course in the way that Klingon society functions. Incidentally it also justifies the rapid promotion to the captain’s chair rather better than the Starfleet tutorial does, although I suppose the Federation don’t offer the same opportunities to fast-track your career as the Empire.”

Kaylriene: My experience leveling a WoW alt now

“For me, I’ve talked a lot about how WoW is a sort of home for me – most of my concerns with leaving the game for the time being have been about concerns outside of gameplay, and while BfA has sort of bummed me out, I’ve been engaged with it about as much as I was for WoD. Ultimately, what I find that WoW offers me at the core of it is a sense of familiarity and comfort.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.

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Well it makes a huge difference whether the numbers are in your face and prepared by the game itself, or if you have to seek them out yourself through your own research, calculations and weighing categories.
Though the end result is the same, this subtle details makes all thedifference in how the hands on gameplay is perceived/felt, again affecting how players act, and in the end how the whole game community talk and act with the game.

Obviously things like gear-score, tiers, simple and flat damage calculation, simple combat, floating damage numbers, dps numbers on weapons instead of dmg/delay, and so on…. These does not help the player step out of the number game and instead be focused on their experience in the world.

In a perfect (game) world, the “best” whatever, should be a feeling and ideally also not real because of numerous other ways to do things, that can not be easily compared (like role interdependencies).

Fenrir Wolf

Only if they’re the focus.

I’ve often tried to articulate what makes GW2’s combat stand out ahead of the pack for me and it’s something to do with how it often reminds me of 1v1 fighters in a way no other MMO has (or likely ever will). A good 1v1 fighter has a character for everyone, no matter what their playstyle. Someone who’s introduced o Street Fighter 2 and sucks at Ken may find they excel at Zangief or Dhalsim. A lot of this is in how differently these characters play from one another.

In GW2, a Mirage plays very differently from a kit Engineer, which plays very differently from a Herald. No other MMO has this sense of divergence in its play. This means that the balancing can be a little more nuanced than numbers versus numbers, instead balancing in a way that really is more reminiscent to me of modern 1v1 fighters rather than MMOs.

Very few people I know of are too interested in being “meta” in GW2, it’s more about finding that class which clicks like finding that one character in a 1v1 fighter that clicks. For me, the ones that clicked were Mirage and Scrapper. For my partner, it was Herald and Firebrand. I’m definitely not “meta” with any of my characters. If I can do well enough, that’s all that matters. I honestly feel that learning how to play your class is MUCH more important than pulling 2 per cent extra DPS.

This means that someone in exotic (lower end) gear can run rings around someone in legendary (highest end) gear. It’s much more dependent on skill. Which I like. Which I like a lot. A lot. I’m sorry but that had to be stressed. I’m the kind of person who speed runs games like Ori and the Blind Forest and VVVVVV for fun. I like games which have more of a skill quotient.

In 99 per cent of MMOs “git gud” actually means devote your life to grinding and to your guild, so that you can get the best gear to keep ahead of the latest nerfs to FoTM builds. That was certainly true of The Elder Scrolls Online, which really drove me away from that game, sadly. ESO almost could’ve had what GW2 has but it’s still far too dependent on numbers and that means that the balancing will always be bad. This is a Universally true rule: If your game relies on numbers above skill, it will never satisfy anyone with balancing. If your game is skill-focused over numbers, it’s much easier to balance in a way that’s reasonable and acceptable.

So in GW2 “git gud” actually means learn to play your class, which is very refreshing. I had to learn to play Mirage and Scrapper. Both of which took a bit for me to wrap my head around, but I eventually clicked with them and now I do pretty okay with them. The combo of my partner’s Herald and my Mirage is one hell of a tag-team duo. It feels legitimately good to play.

With the Mirage I’m constantly juggling sustain with my ability to spam conditions (like torment) upon my foes, it’s an effort that feels real rather than just going through a rotation whilst standing in the same spot. I’m often dodging, moving around, and so on.

One change I’m glad they made from early GW2 is the ability to snipe. I don’t know when they changed that but I remember in early GW2 if you were on a higher platform, enemies would be out of range. I was very against that. They’ve eased back on that a lot now and that opens up a good number of play options too. There’s so many variables that can be included in one’s playstyle.

So I don’t think that numbers are bad, necessarily, but focusing on them above skill-based gameplay is.


Damage meters RUIN an MMO for me. I played WoW for a couple of years before my friends and I tried damage meters. We were AWESOME at the game. Everyone knew their role, paid attention to the encounters and executed to perfection. It was an absolute joy. Then we tried damage meters. Now let me just say that I was never beaten on the damage meters amongst my friends and I (upwards of 12 of us). They couldn’t understand how I did it. Even if I played with a pickup group and was incredibly out geared, I’d still be among the top 3 in 25 man raids if not top. So that’s not why I hate them.

I hate them because they steal the focus of the members. If you know how to deal damage, you feel it. You can tell when you’re doing well and when you’re not. You don’t need damage meters to tell you that. If you can’t tell, then you suck and you’re not doing good damage. The members of the team need to focus on the encounters and work TOGETHER to accomplish the challenge. Damage meters takes that teamwork away and makes it a competition among the members. Now people are attacking the wrong targets, using the wrong skills, not paying attention to their position, utterly screwing everything up just so they can beat someone on the damage meters.

Also, being in a group of 25 other members doesn’t really tell the whole story of your damage. You might be the support guy buffing everyone else’s damage. That damage doesn’t show up on your score, but it’s still your contribution. You might be doing everything perfectly, single target focus, etc. at the right times and that can detract from your overall as well. Which is better? Morons think the damage number is better and that’s what makes them a good player.

If you want to improve your rotations and damage, go practice on your own. Post your single target score. And then compare. Otherwise, you’re getting your jimmies off for the wrong reasons.

Other than damage meters, I like numbers/stats. I have that kind of mind though. I’m sure a few of my friends would disagree though. They’d rather just play and not worry about the stats.


Numbers are essential – building games on logical computers means numbers are going to be there whether you can see them or not. So, I’d rather see them.

Where things go wrong, is when numbers started being the main reason for success or failure. Got good enough stats and rotations? You win! Not good enough? You lose.

It should be player decisions / actions that determine whether you win or lose, not numbers. In other words, games should aim to provide depth, instead of the shallow mess we often get these days.

Bryan Correll

During the early years of CoH, Cryptic’s position was that knowing the real numbers would make the game less fun. Among other things damage done by abilities was described in vague terms like minor, moderate, extreme, etc. And even these bare descriptions were often incorrect with sometimes a ‘minor’ damage power hitting harder than a ‘moderate’ power in the same set.

Pretty much from the start it was clear that players, overall, did NOT agree that ‘real numbers’ would make the game less fun. We wanted to be able to make informed decisions when it came to character builds, and some community members (blessed be they) developed planning tools.

Thankfully Paragon Studios did not keep Cryptic’s ‘no real numbers’ policy.

So do numbers rob games of fun? No. The numbers are there whether you can see them or not. And not knowing can be more frustrating than fun.

Robert Mann

Numbers are just a mechanic. The problem is that both developers and players have tended to focus on nothing but incrementally better numbers. Changing that up changes the game, some would lament that, others would celebrate it.

Dug From The Earth

Numbers are just the tool

Players rob mmos of fun by using numbers in specific ways that remove the fun from the game.

– I love seeing my characters actual stats. My chance to crit for example. It a nice element of planning and strategizing my characters progression and growth. Its a personal standard I can either choose to follow, or not, based on if its fun for me.

on the flip side…
– Things like gear score, or dps ratings, set by other players as entry level points to being able to take part in things, is not fun, IMO. Its not something I choose to set myself. Its something set by someone else, based on what they feel is necessary. An opinion that I may not agree with, or feel is necessary.


Grouping was a lot more fun when you couldn’t see the numbers. If someone got booted from a group, it was because they were being an ass, not because they weren’t following the meta or their gear wasn’t up to scratch.

Course, developers are at fault too for making performance so gear-dependant. It’s an easy way to provide progression that unfortunately turns everyone into a self-interested git.

Roger Edwards

Do numbers rob MMOs of fun?

No. Other gamers who are self appointed “Fun Police” do that.

Axetwin .

No, the numbers let you know how your character is progressing. What IS ruining MMO’s are the so called “hardcore” players that come along and act like the numbers are the end-all be-all to the game. They min/max and expect everyone to play the exact same way. “If you’re playing for fun, then you’re playing for the wrong reasons” is their motto, and they demand everyone adhere to it.