MMOs Coddle You
|The physical version of modern MMOs.|
Don't get me wrong - it wasn't always the best thing ever to have no clue as to how to complete a task at hand. Sometimes it was just infuriating, leaving you hopelessly wandering around and trying random things until something worked or searching online for hints and walkthrough guides.
In those cases, the problem was typically one of three things:
- You failed to comprehend the task, information and/or clues provided.
- The quest was poorly written/planned from the start, making it difficult to complete.
- The quest was made intentionally ambiguous to mess with you.
TMI Man, Just TMI
|Far less expensive than MMOs, |
and essentially the same thing.
This system was continually refined with new MMO titles or expansions to the point that you now have obvious markers indicating everything related to your quests. Need to open a gate? Just follow the magically appearing arrow/path to a brightly glowing lever! I wouldn't mind this if it was part of the beginner's tutorial to help explain how to accomplish things, but it persists throughout the entirety of the game(s) now.
|Think it's impossible to have|
"too much information"?
Remember that the next time
a friend goes into graphic
details of their surgery,
complete with pictures!
By laying bare the mathematics of the game, players can simply plug in numbers to see results, removing any need for experimentation. This creates a scenario where players feel (or are told) they must choose a very specific set of options for their characters to be considered any good.
When you can mathematically prove that a certain set of options is superior to another, what is the point in having options? World of Warcraft (among others) significantly reworked their entire talent system several times trying to address this issue.
I argue that it could've been avoided entirely by not handing out so much information. Yes, there would still be people trying to min-max the system and attempting to figure out the formulas. When they do, it will be glaringly obvious as many players suddenly change to the dominant builds being posted online. At that point, developers could alter the game so that other builds are still viable.
More Regress Than Progress
|This pretty much sums up the evolution of MMOs.|
Think about all the MMOs you've ever played and the quests you did. I'm fairly certain those quests involved one or more of the following:
- Kill X things. Whether it's one boss, 10 rats, or 30 players, you find and kill a certain number of them.
- Collect X macguffins. Maybe it's a magic ring, maybe it's a pile of bear paws.
- Go to X, typically an NPC or location. This is typically a segue quest to move you to the next area.
- Escort X from point A to point B. Usually, it's an NPC you have to protect from harm along the way.
It's even worse when you look at some of the other types of content. Take for example the player housing options in more recent MMOs (and upcoming expansions). They're no better than what was offered in the previous generation of titles, and actually pale in comparison to the options available from classic (aka really, really old) MMOs. That's just sad. There are very few upcoming titles right now that even look promising in this area, and the one that stands out (EverQuest Next/Landmark) doesn't seem all that great in other aspects.
With all the doom and gloom concerning how I feel about MMOs, the obvious answer then is to ignore them entirely and just play something else like single-player RPGs, right? Not quite.
It's Pretty Much Everywhere
|Pictured: A game more akin to |
oldschool RPGs than most
modern RPGs are.
Most of the time it boils down to what type of RPG are you looking for - one with a vast open world but mostly meaningless options (like Skyrim) or a more linear story-driven game where your decisions matter (KOTOR, Dragon Age)? I'm still not certain why we can't have both the open world and the impactful decisions in more games, but I suppose that's a topic for another time.