Back in September, one of our dear readers Aldristavan sent in a fun question for the Massively OP Podcast: What’s one outdated MMO mechanic that just needs to go? Justin and I cracked each other up because we had exactly the same answer: raid-only endgames.
The way we see it, the problem isn’t raiding itself; MMOs are enhanced by raiding. And there are lots of ways to implement raiding that serve both the super casual market all the way up to the super competitive. But when the endgame is raiding-only or even raiding-centric, the design of the rest of the game – the leveling game, questing game, crafting game, dungeoning game, PvPing game, roleplaying game, the cosmetics game – naturally breaks down. This is not a new argument from either of us, but it’s still true all these years later.
So for Massively Overthinking this week, let’s come up with some different answers. What one MMO mechanic or system would you like to banish to the ends of the earth?
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): High-level restrictions. Over the past 10 years, I’d say one big thing that really makes or breaks MMOs is accessibility. While I may have loved old school MMOs with few travel systems, gating mechanisms, and full-drop PvP, I also know how that can limit an audience. That’s OK to an extent, but there’s only so much room for that niche. If my friends are always behind because they don’t play enough to get a mount, didn’t get a high enough level to enter a dungeon, or needs to grind three more levels to unlock the next part of the story that lets them onto the continent I’m on, we’re not gonna have a good time. Even worse is if there’s an “endgame” that barely resembles the game people leveled up with.
Second place would be no-trade economies. Trade was one of the main staples of MMOs in my opinion. I know virtual economies are hard to manage, but giving up on them is just awful. I can’t speak for everyone, but I got into MMOs because they’re virtual worlds, not just multiplayer games. Giving someone a piece of armor or a horse is natural. To have the game say “nope!” is jarring, especially because it’s one of the oldest features in the genre.
Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX), YouTube): Get rid of leveling for themepark MMOs. What’s the point anymore? It’s just something in the way, and with WoW players able to level up in a few hours what’s the point of keeping it? At this point is pretty much a formality. Most of the stat points come from gearscore anyway and all it does is increase the gap between players in endgame and approaching endgame. Instead of linear progression, a matrix style would be better. Imagine spawning into a game and there are different narrative paths that lead players to their content of choice. They can choose to join some special force that deals with the most brutal dangers (raids), choose a faction to battle it out with another faction (PvP) or sign up with the adventurer’s guild (small scale PvE/story quests). That would be so much nicer.
Speaking of lore, do we always have to be the big hero in our MMOs? I don’t like being the chosen one anymore; it’s sooooo played out. Again, taking on the role of a demon hunter in an MMO makes more sense than the demon hunter in an MMO. It opens up much more narrative freedom too, making it easier for players to get all the more freedom to do what they want with who they want.
Also, glamour systems and PvP shouldn’t be gated behind story.
Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Loot rolling. We have the technology now where players can have their own loot rewards based on their chosen class and character level. There really isn’t any reason why the loot roll system can’t be launched in to the sun.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I really want to see MMO developers put to death super-obscure gearing systems. Practically every MMO I know seems to have these weird and non-intuitive ways to gear up, systems that are typically added post-launch. I get headaches trying to figure them out and grow angry at studios that don’t seem to realize that they’ve made something that the devs might understand well but the average player will find incomprehensible. Gear progression doesn’t need to be an IKEA instruction manual!
Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’ll go with the obvious: forced group content. I just don’t like other people enough to enjoy being forced into grouping. And it isn’t that I want to play only singleplayer games; I want to be able to play and have fun without there being a carrot dangled out on a stick that can only be reached with nine other players. It’s the same out of game too. I enjoy living in a world populated by all kinds of people, but that doesn’t mean I want to talk to any of you. I’ll let you do your thing and I’ll do mine.
This doesn’t just apply to raids either. I am also turned off by PvP systems that force you into being in a large guild to succeed. It’s just lame. I should be able to play with a small group or solo and feel like my time spent was productive and successful. Looking back at Warhammer Online, I was never in a huge guild, but I could run out to the contested zones and find players to fight. And while I was out there solo, I could end up running into other players doing similar things and suddenly we’d have a nice PUG taking over a keep. In those cases, I didn’t feel like I was being forced into grouping. It was just a natural and fun experience.