In general, I try to be an optimistic fellow. When it comes to MMO gaming — you know, that hobby we apparently love and enjoy — I’d rather look on the bright side than the angry, cynical, disgruntled dark side most days of the week. There needs to be balance between such outlooks to be sure, but if I’m to err, I’d rather err as a happy gamer than a bitter one.
So today’s list will be a departure for me, as I’m going to complain at great length about stupid little things that annoy me in MMOs. I look at it like lancing a boil: painful, gross, and generally relieving. If you want to join in with me, just remember that the area can get infected if you keep picking at it for too long.
What ticks me off? Open Pandora’s Box below and ye shall never know peace…
I sympathize with developers when it comes to quest variety. There’s only a limited selection of quest types to pull out, give a slightly different veneer, and then throw into the game while hoping that your playerbase won’t rise up in revolt at having seen all of this a hundred times before. But that still doesn’t excuse the use of escort missions because — and I feel comfortable speaking for the entire population of Earth — everyone despises them. Wholly. Completely. Despises.
I think it’s because it feels like the devs are personally screwing with you when you go through these missions. “Hey Gary, do you think we could make the NPC walk any slower? And perhaps take a detour through a mine field?” “I don’t see why not, Tom!” “And then here I would like her to stop and tie her shoelaces for two minutes while the 405th Spider Legion swarms in.” “Will do! Let’s call it a day.”
The Tank Dictator
I’m all about being a team player when it comes to running group content, especially in PUGs. And I sympathize with team leaders (who are almost always the tanks) because their job is more difficult and demanding. It’s double-duty, really.
But too many of these leaders have become Tank Dictators, snapping and yelling at the team for every little thing, belittling our contributions, and generally telling us how to play. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader in real life, so it’s not necessarily a good thing that MMOs plop into these small seats of power people who aren’t qualified to handle a group without draconian threats.
Discrimination against small races
It seems like those of us who prefer smaller races face discrimination from both developers and players. Players love to ridicule the “smallies” because what kind of world would this be if we didn’t give bullies an easy target? But even worse are the devs who, when not ignoring shorter races entirely, create hazards that tall characters can traverse easily. Here I’m speaking of the difference between walking through a puddle and having to very slowly swim through it after getting knocked off your horse.
Part of our job here at Massively OP is to dig through piles of studio press releases and carefully worded statements from developers to give you the actual scoop without the attached crazy. Whether it’s from overzealous public relations departments or studios that have forgotten to talk normally to players, PR speak is everywhere. And man can it be awful.
I’ve read horribly mangled sentences that have no place coming out of Cookie Monster, let alone a professional development studio. I’ve seen enough hyperbole to build six skyscrapers and have enough left over for a parking lot. I’ve witnessed developers outright lying to our faces because we have no way to gain access to information to call them on it. Now, it’s not always this bad, but when it is, I have to take a half-hour off to go skeet shooting to relieve frustration.
Platforming in 3-D
While the world may have rejoiced when games went to 3-D in the mid-’90s, I was not on board with this concept in regard to platformers. While I loved side-scrolling platformers, 3-D gave me difficulties — and still does.
As a guy with only one functional eye, I’ve always had depth perception problems, and even when it comes to figuring out jumping distances in a game, I usually have to just wing it. This ends up with my imitating a pancake and developing a facial tic. So I really hate platforming in 3-D environments, especially in MMOs where twitch gaming isn’t supposed to be part of the package.
Devs ‘reinventing’ perfectly fine systems
When an MMO feature is proven and works great, there’s no need to make your own game’s version weirder or more convoluted in the name of progress. Adding a fifth wheel or taking away the fourth from a car doesn’t make you a visionary who’s reinventing automobiles; it rankles people and makes us ask “why?” in small, hurt voices.
Mobs that stun, knock down, or make you flee in fear
I recognize that there’s a level of hypocrisy in being angry at mobs that can do what players can do, but these are games made for my pleasure, darn it, and I should be ushered into them through the VIP door. So no, I don’t like it when a mob shuts me down, either through stuns, knockdowns, or fears. It takes control away from me and makes me spend a few seconds thinking vile thoughts about the game and its creators. I’d rather be thinking about cotton candy because that stuff is the most interesting dessert to make, handle, and consume.
Dying so close to a goal with no easy way to get back
If you’ve ever had a moment when you’ve wanted to body check your computer and then join a cult for the brainwashing, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time making your way to a goal and then dying within inches or minutes of having achieved it. Yes, the “raid boss has 0.01% health left and we wiped” scenario applies here.
Mazes with poor map support
I’ve been playing RPGs since childhood, and one constant has remained up through today’s MMOs: Developers love putting in mazes. Back in the day, it was downright required that you created your own maps by hand because the game sure as heck wouldn’t do it for you. It’s a point of pride to be able to say you did so, but I can’t tell you with honesty that it was a fun activity — just a mandatory one.
So I don’t very much appreciate it when an MMO presents me with tricky terrain (say, canyons or invisible walls) or a genuine labyrinth and then denies me helpful camera angles or maps. I’m not going to break out the graph paper, I’m not going to bump into walls over the next half-hour while sarcastically intoning “whee,” and I’m not going to come back to that area. Mazes suck; they are activities that are frustrating to tackle and only slightly relieving (but not fun) when finished.
When PvE is impacted by PvP ‘balance’
I have a “live and let live” policy when it comes to types of MMO gameplay (I even try to keep my mocking of roleplayers down to a gentle murmur). So while I don’t care for PvP, I don’t mind that games provide space and activities for those who do.
I just don’t want PvP to affect how I play PvE, which is why it’s a never-ending pet peeve when developers adjust PvE skills in order to balance whatever’s going on in PvP. Suddenly one of my core skills has been nerfed into oblivion because some Rogue whined about it killing him in a battleground. If you can’t figure out how to program two variants of the same skill for different game modes, then you probably shouldn’t be in the MMO business.
These are my 10 greatest pet peeves. What are yours?