Week of Fives: Gaming Wishes

A few years from now, maybe a few more, probably never, these are the top five things we’d like to see in online gaming, three from me, two from Raster:

1. Let’s rethink this whole healing gig. Personally, I’d like to see the primary healer role eliminated completely. I realize there must be some people who enjoy the primary healer role, the pure defense character, but crimony, every goddamn game it’s the same issues … faster burnout, repetitive play, short supply, limited solo’ing options. I’d like to see multi-player gaming either move to a model where every class has minimal healing/recovery abilities or, at least, something like Guild Wars with a primary/secondary class choice system. I realize this would homogenize classes somewhat, but surely someone, somewhere, can figure out a better system than the current one. (Foton)

2. Let’s rethink travel. Guild Wars did this quite well and I’d love to see instant travel moved over to more games. EverQuest provided portals to a majority of zones with the Planes of Power expansion, which was better than nothing. Sixty minute hearthstones are not the answer, Blizzard. Neither are slow ass griffins which usually take the longest possible route to get anywhere. If I’m not in combat, I should be able to port myself to any major city on the continent, and there should also be an “express airlines” to cut down on unwanted travel time. There are enough time sinks in games already, and travel needs to be done away with as one. Don’t even get me started on bag space and inventory space … (Raster)

3. Let’s rethink loot. MMO loot is a lot of the fun of gaming, but it’s a lot of the pain as well. Two things I’d like fixed: randomness that bites you in the ass and worthless trash mobs. There’s a few ways to fix the wonky randomness, maybe a self-correcting behind-the-scenes randomizer that just gives you the damn loot you’ve been farming for 290,348 hours; or, how about meaningful faction systems? High-factioned players can just buy from NPC vendors what they didn’t loot. (Similar to EverQuest’s Lost Dungeons of Norrath and Warcraft’s Blood Elf Ghostlands area — an idea I LOVED in the beta, by the way.) And trash mobs, either they should drop useable items or equipment FAR more often, or once a group or raid of players have bested a dungeon, they should never have to clear the trash again. I know that’s unreasonable, but goddamn, I hate trash — there’s got to be more interesting, or less annoying, barriers to boss fights. (Foton)

4. Let’s rethink play styles. I don’t care if a game is classified as Massively Multiplayer, sometimes I just want to solo or do something with a friend. Forced grouping to get any worthwhile equipment is ridiculous. Raiding especially is a chore — with EQ forcing 72 people to show up (later 48) and WoW going the 40 man route (25 in the expansion). Add in PvP, and the gear difference from raiders and non raiders is just magnified. Please don’t take this as me advocating people should just be able to go kill some random easy monster and get the best gear in the game, I don’t. I just feel every style of play should be offered worthwhile rewards (no, reputation grinding to be able to purchase maybe one or two decent things does not count) and there may be hope on the horizon. The Burning Crusade promises much 5 and 10 man content with ample rewards, here’s to hoping. (Raster)

5. Let’s rethink play sessions. Sometimes I wonder if what we really need in MMO gaming is a pause button. Those of us with discretionary income have jobs, and families and mortagages and other obligations … we need fast travel and fast recoveries and fast groups and fast fun. The days of multi-hour LFGs and multi-hour experience groups and multi-hour corpse runs are over. I’d like to see better chunking of the content into shorter play sessions. Quests are ideal for that, of course, but we need raid content with easy entry and exit points. I think two hours or so should be the most time required to complete an instance. Add in group/raid formation, travel time, yap yap about loot time and that’s a solid three hours. Naturally, the first few times attempting a dungeon/instance will add to that, which is fine. Games shouldn’t require lenghthy time commitments to accomplish something. (Ya, SHOULDN’T.) (Foton)

Thursday, Five Assholes from 2006 We Want to Remember FOREVER.

20 thoughts on “Week of Fives: Gaming Wishes

  1. I would not have thought of simply eliminating the primary healer class as a solution to that particular problem, but it makes a surprising amount of sense. I do enjoy playing a primary healer in some instances just because it lets me narrow my focus to the health bars and not get so overwhelmed by sensory input, but then I have ADD/bipolar, so that constrains the amount I can handle.

    And, definite agreement on the rest. So many WoW players are adults with spouses, jobs, hobbies, and yes, even children. It would be nice if Blizz would make it easier for us to pop into the game and spend some time having fun.

  2. I really liked the way AC2 handled the healing. Every class had the option of low-level heals. If you wanted that self-sufficiency, then you spent the points to go down into the skill tree to have them. There were primary healers however, since everyone wore armor, there were no squishies. This simple fact is empowering for healing classes. Doesn’t mean you can DPS like other classes but it makes solo play extremely viable for everyone, including healers. This means more options and less burn out for someone who wants a primary healer class, but doesn’t want to be gimped by having selected that role.

    WOW travel isn’t so bad. I think it takes much longer to get placed in EQ2 than WOW. I really have to decide if I want to go somewhere before I bother making the trek. Another AC2 idea is multiple hearthstones/recalls. You could earn recalls to all the major cities, you had a hearthstone of sorts to a guild hall AND you had the ability to tie a hearth to another portal/location if you bought that skill. With so many options travel wasn’t as laborous as it is in these other games. Can you imagine the convience of having a recall (sorry Mages) to all of the major cities? Or at least one plus your hearth? I could bind to IF and HS to the city in the area that I was currently questing for my level.

    I’d really love to see raiding in smaller chunks. I’ve aligned myself as a casual player but truth be told, I play around 30+ hours a week. The problem is that I can’t play in long sessions which makes raiding painful so I opt’d out. Well that plus the repetitiveness of it all. If raid encounters were designed in lets say, 2-hour chunks that would allow more people to raid. However, it would also mean more coordination on the part of raid leaders as small chunks would create more sessions. Six of one…

  3. Really makes you realise how much UO was before its time. I don’t think it suffered from any of these issues (as such…it had plenty of others, but these are pretty fundamental and this far through you’d hope people would learn).

    1. You just put points in skills. Simple as. Get 100 in healing and you can heal. Woo. Healing works faster on other people than it does on yourself thus encouraging you to heal others. Mages have a heal and greater heal spell. Fantastic.

    2. Probably the most painful thing in WoW is flying to the other end of your continent to be blown out by your group and having to fly back to whatever it is you were doing before. Pah. UO had a system whereby you mark runes to a location, then recall to them. Simplistic. Effective. If you’ve been in battle recently you can’t recall. Couldn’t make more sense.

    3. UO combat wasn’t item based ala New UO and WoW thus loot didn’t really matter. It was fairly easy to get top ranked armour and people could craft relatively throw away stuff which would get you by.

    4. You can get by on your own and never really need to help anyone. But you can if you want to. Great.

    5. Dungeons weren’t a thing you played through. You killed what you wanted to kill and that was that. When your pack’s full or someone’s killing you or the phone rings you leave. Flangetastic.

    Yeah, not to blow its trumpet too much, but they really knew what they were doing back then and it’s just a shame MMO devs haven’t worked out – people enjoy playing the game, not preparing for 3 hours before hand in order to play the game. And even then the grind to 60 is the game…then you can start playing the game..? What? Modern MMOs have fuckin’ twisted logic.

  4. Travel time between zones is my biggest complaint in all online games.
    SWG = nightmare.

    Which is why every newcomer that I show ANY mmo to says something like “Wow that sure is alot of running, when are you going to actually play?” or “What are you doing? ohh.. playing that running game…”

    If the first impression that a newcomer gets to the game is that its a running simulator.. well just seriously .. think about that for a second.. im not joking here I talk to alot of people that play games but dont play online games, its the same comment every time.

    Lots of games have had many good ideas to work around this, put them all together and it would be great.

    In AC you could have a few friends mark different zones on a map and they could create portals (that any random person could click on) to those zones. So if you grouped with the same people all the time you could always get to the hotspots instantly.

    Moonstones(?) in UO or those teleporter tubes in AC/AC2 were basically wormholes between zones. (Quite similar to the guildwars “click on the town you want to go to” method)

    As far as “pause” goes, in WoW the best we have is FD or shadowmeld.. :-/
    I think even in SWG you could log out basically anywhere and you would be invincible for 60 seconds after logging back in.

  5. I know I have a tendency to talk about a 10 year old game, but UO really did a lot of things right in the early days. The mark/recall/gate system was my favorite form of travel in any MMO to date. Nothing like seeing a gate opening up and having dread lords pour out of it. The instant travel was so convenient but at the same time you had to put in a little bit of leg work to build up your rune collection. You also needed around a 50-60 magery to cast recall reliably and at least a 20 magery if you wanted to use scrolls which brings me to my second point..

    Before the 7x system was implemented everyone could learn as many skills as they wanted. You’re right in saying that it led to homogeneous characters, hence the term “plate mage”, but each character was comepletely self sufficient. Before 7x was implemented you could just learn magery, swords, archery, ect and as long as you worked the skill it was yours to use. It was freaking awesome. Originally there was an atrophy system in place where you had to use the skills occasionally or they would decay, but there was also a cool system by where if you were near someone else using a skill you would gain points just from watching them do it. Pretty cool.

    Most of the other stuff BigFreak already mentioned. I still find it funny that one of the first MMOs did so many things right, and that these are things that other games are still getting wrong.

  6. “Before 7x was implemented”

    What is 7x? There was always a 700 point skill cap. Is this something new? I quit playing UO around 2002 and sold off my castle.

  7. @blackhawk

    I was under the impression that early on (1997 – 1998) there was no hard cap on skill points. It’s been a while though I might just not have counted up my points at the time. What I’m really reffering to is when mediation/anatomy/eval/healing changes went in and players were pretty much forced to choose between dexer and tank mage (or thief). It went from being “You can use magery, plate, archery, swords, whatever” to “In order to compete I need sword, tact, mage, med, eval, resist, wrestling”. Basically if you remember the plate mage days, there was a patch that went in that added much more defined “classes” to the game that did away with plage mages and replaced them with tank mages.

  8. I’ve been playing a primary healer in WoW for about a year and a half now. Before that, for several years I played a mage “healer” tamer in UO. The healer experience in UO was altogether different than it is in WoW – in fact, that experience is what encouraged me to be a healer in WoW.

    After this WoW experience, it’s safe to say that I will never create a primary healer again, anywhere.

  9. As for travel, rather than eliminate it, I’d love to see games focus on making travel less necessary. Because, to be honest, I love travel in games, it serves to make the world feel bigger, and “back in the day” of EQ, it made you try to pick places in the game where you could be for a while and not need to travel. In more recent games, however, quests have you running to the far ends of the world for a pittance of a reward. You hate the travel because the game forces you to travel for seemingly no good reason.

    But, if you were to travel for a pilgrimage, or because you wanted to shift yourself to a new “hometown”, where there was plenty of close content to town and you didn’t need to travel twenty minutes every single game session, it would work and wouldn’t introduce the weirdness of everyone being able to instantly teleport practically anywhere.

  10. I completely agree with Jason about the travel issue.

    One thing that’s not on the list is the lack of danger and excitement. Anyone who played UO knows the feeling of wondering through an unknown neighborhood and seeing a red (murderer) name pop up on your screen.

    I don’t feel that fear sensation in WoW… If I get attacked on my low level guy by some 60, I just sit down and take the death. I have nothing to loose, so who cares?

    I would like to see more player loot like UO had, and I would love a murder system.

    I had an idea (ignore the lore for a second) that Alliance & Horde could attack their own faction, but would become “red” (murderer) after a few kills. After becoming “red” you could then no longer communicate with your faction and would be outcast from their towns; however, you COULD communicate with other murderers, Alliance or Horde. This would, in a sense, create a 3rd faction of murderers.

    It’s just a random thought, so save the flames if you disagree =)

  11. I guess Drysc doesnt agree.

    "Around the world in 20 minutes"

    It doesn't sound so bad to me. World of Warcraft, like many MMOs and even some single player games attempts to recreate the feeling that your character actually exists in a world. That if you want to get from point A to point B you need to take the time to travel there, because this is the recreation of a world. In most single player games, which I'm sure you're accustomed to, you talk to someone or visit a point, press a button, and your travel is alluded to with a fade to black. That works fine for those games as they aren't attempting to provide the illusion of a fully realized world.

    The feeling of being in an environment and limited to some degree by the factors in that world actually help create a sense of involvement and immersion. That may sound ridiculous, that it's just a limiting factor, that the time you're spending in-transit is completely worthless and annoying. That may be true for you, but we're still going to attempt to create a cohesive world that draws everyone else in and lets them experience the game with a sense that they're in a living and breathing landscape.

    The speed at which boats and blimps travel and the amount of distance they cover already approaches ludicrous, and that's about as far as we're willing to go. Allowing everyone to just teleport everywhere not only compromises the feeling of a cohesive world but really jeopardizes a lot of the sub systems that take into account the need for travel to remote locations. From specific viewpoints on how a game is perceived and played, such rules and ideas seem ridiculous and unnecessary, but we want and need to develop the game for more than just those with those viewpoints.

    I responded.

    I find the people usually against instant travel are those that have the time to sit there and “immerse” themselves. They also have the time to sit on a message board for a few hours a day and post.

    Those of us in the real world like to get something done in the game. Travel time is one of the major time sinks we hate dealing with. Forgive me for being blunt, but, I think having people wait for boats, while magic exists in the world is just as ludicrous as the short travel time the boats take to reach the other side of the world. Just put a port you have to pay for on the docks and let those who want to wait for boats, wait.

  12. Heh, well said. Travel seems to be one of division points between the role players and those that just want to play (i.e. kill things).

    If you’re at all familiar with Star Wars Galaxies, that game had a really painful travel system. We used to call waiting for the starport, roleplay time, cuz that was pretty much all the roleplayers did, stand around at the starports waiting for an audience.

  13. The problem with putting a portal at the dock and letting people choose to take the boat or the instant transport is that, inevitably, everyone will use the portal because of peer pressure.

    “Be there in twenty minutes guys, I’m waiting for the boat.”
    “Waiting for the boat?!?!? Why?!?! Just take the portal!”

    The problem isn’t that the boat takes twenty minutes, the problem is that you appearantly have to travel to play. A game should have plenty of content, for all levels/classes/groups/raids/whatever within a reasonable distance from a player’s home. Designing the game to require a trip around the world every game session is the flaw.

    Everyone seems to focus on the immediate problem (travel being annoying most of the time) instead of the underlying problem (travel being required for even the most trivial of game tasks). If you spend too much time focusing on the immediate problem and keep fixing that (portals and the docks, instance transport to cities), eventually you’ll have people asking for a town map that allows them to teleport from merchant to merchant because running clear across town is just a waste of time and I want to buy my muffins now!!!

  14. eventually you’ll have people asking for a town map that allows them to teleport from merchant to merchant because running clear across town is just a waste of time and I want to buy my muffins now!!!

    That’s ridiculous. What do you think we have mages for? ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. A game should have plenty of content, for all levels/classes/groups/raids/whatever within a reasonable distance from a player’s home.

    Thats why everything is in the EK.

  16. Recently started playing Dungeon Runners. I created a warrior and after going into the first dungeon I was upset because I died all the time. I asked the /world if I had to have a group for that dungeon and they laughed telling me to buy potions… Oh, I’ve been playing WoW too long.

    I started fighting my way back into the dungeon again and found that having no cool down on potions was a novel idea. I forgot that games used to work that way. (Diablo 1/2 and a few others) Dungeon Runners doesn’t even have a healing class! So far so fun!

    Travel in games is currently a joke. Does Oblivion feel any less huge by insta-travel? Not to me. The world is still vibrant and alive. I feel sad that the developers and decision makers over WoW hold onto beliefs that old school is the best way to do things period. I feel WoW is not living up to its potential because of the stubbornness of people who are traditionalists and won’t budge.

    Equipment disparity is disgusting. I find it pointless to PVP anymore because of it. Playing on a PVP server can suck too. (Rolling a warrior doesn’t help the issue either) Guild Wars recently had a PVP/Event where anyone any level could join up and be effective in PVP combat. They allowed each player one weapon that was an insta-kill if you landed a blow with it. (Think WoW wand/bow that you could dodge if you were fast enough) I was fighting along with level 20s having a blast. I even got to put the smack down on a few! This eliminated the “raiders” from casual player gap and it was fun. Maybe WoW should consider something like that when it comes to the new Arena system. I want nothing more than the game to become skill based and not “EPICCED YOU IN THE FACE”.

    Just my opinions. They are right, but still opinions. =)


  17. Nath – I really laughed at your response. It’s clear and to the point. Let people who have the time twiddle their thumbs waiting and take the boat, while I blink, port or whatever where i need to be. Planning in 20 mins of travel time to get to a raid on time, that in and of itself is going to take hours, is just an unnecessary pain in my azz. Or was until I said the hell with the lot of you.

    Long quest lines for epics. Honestly, what is wrong with that idea? People can choose their route to phat loot. Scheduled raids or chunk out your own time. I think the problem wouldn’t be the players, it’s the development time of creating both flavors of the content.

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