In my last post I talked a lot about what I call “Classic style MMOs”. What I mean by that term is that I have a character with numerous abilities that requires me to have numerous action bars at the bottom and sides of my screen. While many important abilities are mapped to 1 to + on my keyboard, most abilities I need to move my mouse to click on, and for the most part I’m navigating with a keyboard and clicking on various buttons with a mouse. This is different from what I would call “Action MMOs” such as Tera, Neverwinter, Vindictus, GW2, etc where you can really play the game almost Diablo style with the mouse and you have maybe a handful of abilities you hit every now and again.
So lets’ talk about Action MMO’s now.
In 2010 devCAT and Nexon released a game called Vindictus. I feel I need to name drop because I don’t think many US MMO players know the game. The game was a F2P model and while not a “great” game IMO, it used Valve’s Source engine and featured Action Combat in an MMO setting and I fell really made it possible for games such as Tera, GW2 and Neverwinter to come about.
In 2011 we were given Tera, an action MMO with the Unreal Engine graphics, a rich world to explore and beautiful half naked women everywhere. The game has a number of improvements to the MMO genre that I feel more games should adopt. For instance non-combat pets that loot for your character. This is probably one of the most useful things I’ve ever encountered in an MMO. While most MMO’s now offer a “area-loot” when you click one or two keys, I love the ability to NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PICKING SHIT UP, I cannot stress that enough.
While I find it interesting that WoW decided to make my non-combat pets into Pokemon, I would rather have my pet picking shit up for me as I run around laying waste to numerous mobs gathering materials or resources for my guild or crafting needs.
My only real gripe with Tera is the leveling is tediously slow and grinding. Quests are uninspired and simply consist of an NPC telling me to go kill 20 of those monsters next to him, then another 20 monsters, then go talk to another NPC to kill more monsters. I just couldn’t take it, and by level 40 I stopped. This was the first and only MMO I did not reach Max level on.
Tera: Rising should have taken a queue from WoW’s expansions that focused on more unique quests that we saw in Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria where phasing was introduced heavily in the game to give the players a feel that they were actually changing the world. In addition while quests invole killing and gathering they did it through methods involving the use of driving vehicles (bombing missions) or traveling by boat and fending off attackers.
In 2012 we got Guild Wars 2, and I’m aware some may not feel it’s a true action MMO like Tera and Neverwinter, but the game ides it’s well with its dodge feature and limited active abilities. I feel I am very partial too GW2 simply because of how much I enjoyed the first Guild Wars. While the second is really nothing like the first game, the story continues and to me I have always found it very interesting. But GW2 had something flawed, that I just can’t seem to put my finger on. The game has all kinds of ways for a player to level, from crafting to adventuring and I like this idea. The effective level caps in areas also make the game always a challenge. But along the way I could just not get myself to complete the journey. I feel like I should be playing this game more, but I just never feel like playing it and when it comes down to it, I feel like I could just go back to WoW and play my paladin who has all kinds of nice and shiny things.
I suppose in the end, GW2 falls into the same theme bucket as Rift, where the game is great and improves a lot on what WoW has done, but at this point I already have characters and friends back in WoW that I may as well just play with. It’s why people don’t leave Facebook for MySpace (I’m aware MySpace was first, but the point is there).
In 2013 we got Neverwinter, which I find fun and play occasionally, but only because it’s instant gratification. It does a lot of things right for me. I can login, queue with a group, do some daily quests, play dress up with my companion(s), ride around town acting silly, and it offers seasonal events. However it’s simple, it’s D&D inspired and again we have a good game targeted to a niche audience, which is fine, but to this day I have never once been invited to a guild, or chatted with other members in the party or even bothered to get to know anyone because it’s basically a multiplayer game that requires no social interaction on my part whatsoever. Which to me makes me a bit disappointed, since I have a lot of friends I keep in touch with, and have met through playing games such as WoW and Final Fantasy.
Released this year in 2014 was Black Gold, which I am tossing in the Action MMO pack as well since the game is a true Hybrid and offers the ability to set your controls for Classic mode or Action mode. When set to Action mode I become a priest who runs around while channeling heals (yes, moving while channeling heals) and can get most things done with only my mouse. The other skills I have mapped are often situational or “oh shit” abilities.
Unfortunately for Black Gold it’s a game that is similar to many of the MMO’s that come out of Asia. Simple, repetitive, grind, and while it rewards its players for logging in every day, it won’t advance you very far at the end game section which will require many, many, hours of grinding mobs in the hope that the materials you need to craft or advance drop.
So what have we learned so far?
To make a successful MMO we need at bare minimum the following:
- Part 1 Recap
- Unique Setting (Don’t try to make Azeroth)
- Group Finder at Launch (Group Finder)
- Social Tools for the game (Guild Chat, Banks, Shared Account Items, etc)
- Give hardcore players rewards, but make it possible for Casual players to be involved (Raid Finder)
- Focus development on future content releases, not on voice acting and cinemetics, players devour content fast, keep them guessing and keep them challenged or they’ll leave
- Part 2
- Lose the grind, make quests interesting or at least have variety
- Have leveling options
- If you’re going to make characters have pets, give them something to do (WoW Pokemon, Tera Looting)
- Give players a reason to interact with each other outside of instances