After yesterday’s post, this really got me thinking. If I don’t think ESO is worth $15 because I don’t consider it an MMO, what am I willing to fork over and for what features? I think this is more of an internal discussion for each and every one of us but this is my blog, so you get to read the ramblings.
I want an MMO
This part seems obvious but lately it seems like this is a challenge for developers to grasp. I want a massively (more than 8 people) multiplayer (that I can interact with and have dependencies) online (ok, this is obvious) game. Diablo 3 is not massive. Neverwinter is. ESO is not multiplayer because the more people you play with, the worse the experience. Few games actually do this well, with sandboxes where the real benefits are found. I want other people to matter. I want other people to enrich my experience outside of a chatbox. Crafting dependencies. Guilds that matter. Group challenges. Customization. Roleplaying. Mentoring. Tribunals.
I don’t want my experience to suck 8 levels of hell because another person is next to me. I don’t want phasing that prevents me from just picking up and playing. I don’t want a system where level differences mean we cannot play/see each other. I want content to scale so that enemies don’t die in 0.2 seconds. I don’t want camping of spawns. I want a white-hat service for the scum of the earth.
I don’t get why this is such a massive problem.
I want an RPG
Ok, this is pretty simple. I want a visual excel spreadsheet. I want the numbers to make sense, complex systems between them and a feeling of overall balance. Nearly every game gets this right. The ones that don’t stumble from the gate and have massive retcon patches after month 1. STO is a good example of bad RPG. SWG and the NGE change is another example.
RPGs are always about progress. The best games have you progress organically, where by doing something you simply get better at it. The level grind is an extraction from the old D&D days, where the levels were mostly just a cap on a dungeon run to make the next one different and more complex. It could take months to gain a level. But the progress in the dungeon was a separate matter. Challenges to overcome, dice rolls to make, choices in some item drops. Small things added into big things. I do miss that.
I want an active dev team
Most games have this but many are just on cruise control. SWTOR lost my subscription quickly because of this. RIFT kept it because they were amazing in their activity. Neverwinter has made a fair chunk of change too. WoW gets me for 2 months a year because of asinine dev cycles.
I get more content from Marvel Heroes or Neverwinter in a month than I get from Blizzard in a year. This also related to bug fixes and balance patches. I understand that a team of 50-100 people won’t catch everything when the game has 500,000 players. That’s normal. What I don’t get is massive bugs that affect everyone. Balance issues that completely prevent people from playing. And that those first got through QA and second, that they are not near immediately hotfixed or at least communicated to the player base.
I want to pay for it too
All of this isn’t free. It takes a lot of hours to make quality and I respect that. I am not a whale by any means but my $15-20 a month MMO-budget can be spent anywhere I see fit. I have spent the most on UO, followed by WoW, EQ and RIFT – all sub games. I’ve spent more in Marvel Heroes and Neverwinter than in all the other subscription games I’ve ever played. The timelime reflects that well enough.
If you provide decent quality content and provide it at a decent rate (say every 2-3 months or so) as well as provide the social framework that improves my experience, then you have my money. If not, then you make a blog post.