My Ideal MMORPG
I’m going to hop on the bandwagon because I feel like I have something important to add to the conversation.
I haven’t enjoyed a single player RPG game on a regular basis since I was…14? So, about ::mumblecough:: years ago.
But there is nothing worse than getting stranded 2/3rds of the way through an otherwise good story with gameplay that has ran out of steam. MMO combat systems, even the ones that feel “off,” convey a depth far beyond the average RPG. They have to.
I think I played WoW almost exclusively as a single player experience, with the odd group here and there (mainly through Vanilla). But that wasn’t why I did it. Sure, I played the game as a single player game, but I did it because of what I could be in the community. High level. Powerful. A hero. Great at pvp. The first [something] to do [something]. Most of the times I got frustrated with MMOs because I wanted to have the multiplayer RPG experience, but I didn’t want to deal with the other people, because their goals/objectives/desires did not mesh with mine. This is almost a negative “Show & Tell” loop, as Azuriel points out.
Show & Tell can be (and has been) implemented in bad ways. I am not a huge fan of arbitrary Achievements, for example, and I think focusing on the latest gear rewards is a bit crass. Transmog and costume options, on the other hand, are much better. Being able to invite you in to see my living room skull pit in Skyrim?
Would have been epic. The mere possibility of being able to eventually post the above screenshot, and having someone able to appreciate it on some level somewhere, generated dozens of hours of additional gameplay. In a single-player game. MMOs generate gameplay in this fashion all the time, of course, and I am here to confirm that it works for single-player games too. And, by extension, MMOs that are played as single-player games.
Now, it’s different. All of that remains, but I finally realized the joy I got from playing MMOs (or the joy I WANTED from playing MMOs) was not in achieving the end goal, or even playing the game, it was being able to play the game in the way that I wanted with other people who wanted to play the same way.
Like creating one of the most powerful characters I can. I play MMOs instead of FPSs because of the depth and complexity that can be added to the game. It’s not just a canned environment of playing round after round. It’s growth and evolution.
It’s this complexity and depth that makes sticking with a character for a long journey fun and rewarding. It’s why these characters often feel more alive to us than those of long-dead games that existed for a brief flash. It’s why any time a new game is announced, the first thing I want to know is just how much I can customize and tweak when it comes to my character.
I would also add to this the lore and non-game character developments that go into creating a character. The character becomes a piece of the player, and vice versa. Hence why I can get very attached to names, as many others can.
So I have this wonderful character that I have created. It is dear to me. But, what does that matter if I cannot actually use this character for what I would like?
That’s where I leave a game. I create a wonderful character within a confined space of a game, and then stop playing never to see the character again because there is no longer anything for me to do once that character is as powerful as it can be.
I think MMOs have figured this out. They took the single player RPG, let people create their hugely powerful character, and at the end of that story arc they added “end-game content.” PvP, Raiding, gear grinds, vanity pets, mounts etc. Players now had something to do with their hugely powerful characters. Their characters could be paraded around with other powerful characters, and they could kill more powerful characters (human or NPC) to establish their dominance.
But now I’m bored again.
The current trend of what to do with the “end game” in MMOs is a hot topic right now, and I don’t think anyone has any definite answers.
I can tell you what the wrong answer is:
The grind. The skinner box. Giving me something shiny for pushing a button.
I don’t want that anymore. I can easily get the social aspect, and the concept of leveling a powerful character, without grinding, can’t I?
Give me the choice of grinding if I want. Don’t make it a necessary time sink. I want to play the game (with my friends), and be powerful. I don’t want to kill ten rats after I just spent 20 minutes killing rats.
Competition and Community
Those are the key aspects, and that is what motivates me to play any game I pick up.
What makes MMO’s any good at all are the multiplayer elements. Take those away and what are you left with? A game worse than the one you could have made if you actually made a single-player RPG.
I wish to play a single player RPG to become powerful. I want to do it along side others. As friends and competitors.
I wish to build a team and have that team be a close knit community. Have it be truly multiplayer.
I wish to take that team and compete against other teams. Or join up with other teams to create a giant team and compete against the other teams.
Truly make the MMO a world that is there to explore and participate in. Multiple times. Over and over. I think WoW did this, but it has moved away from the world aspect to a focus on collection and grinding of pets and gear (LFR, cross realm dungeons, cross realm bgs…but that’s a whole different discussion)
Basically it boils down to:
So give me everything MMOs have been trying to give, but stop treating the players like they don’t understand the mechanics of what’s going on.
That’s the dream of an MMO for me. Give me a platform, a wide open space of challenges to be overcome with my friends. Let the challenge be to build an impenetrable base. Then have some people from another server come around and try and take it down. Then they do, and we have failed, and then we build it again, and better. Or we go and take down their base this time.
Stop making me grind. And give me a single player RPG experience that I can play with my friends, against my friends, and against different communities.
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