In the spirit of my recent design thoughts, I’ve started to think of what features I would put into an MMO if I were the designer. This list is far from complete, however, I thought I’d give it a go:
- Zoneless: This one is a must for me. I hate zones with a vengeance, and I think in todays technology, this isn’t that much of a stretch. At the very least, I’d like to go pseudo-zoneless like WoW. In WoW they have a bunch of small and moderate sized zones that are cleverly hidden so that the player doesn’t even really realize they are zones, and then has a few larger zones (continents) that are of the more traditional loading time type.
- Skill-based: Some of my favorite MMO systems weren’t class-based. These include UO, AC, and SWG. I’ve always felt too restrictive playing in a class-based system. I like the ability to customize a character how I see fit.
- Ecology: I’d like to see the virtual ecology, because I really do think it could be a fun system that creates more dynamic content into the game with very little designer work once the system is in place.
- Placeable Houses: I loved having the goal of buying these really expensive houses in UO and being able to put them on your own plot of land. It is so much more fulfilling than just getting an instanced house like in AO or EQ2, or even the pre-placed houses like in AC (though because they were unique, it still felt nice to get those).
- Player-controlled ships: The one reason I really want to try Pirates of the Burning Seas is to try their ship ownership and ship combat. Outside of that, the game looks very bland at best.
- Meaningful PvP: This one is tough and I don’t know how to do it, but I’d like to see PvP with purpose, not just mindless killing, while also keeping the new player safe.
- Humor: One thing I really took out of AC was the humor of the game. There were moments of the game that just made you smile and laugh that I think is really missing out of games. EQ2 tries sometimes, but overall is a stick in the mud. I think this is something WoW really does well at though.
- Logic: I don’t want dungeons that are there for dungeon sake. Give me a reason that someone built a long tunneling system of corridors into the mountain that was obvious that it isn’t just for mining (as the fancy decoration suggest it is not).
- Randomness: This one is odd to some I know, but I like the fact that I’m different than other players and randomness does this very well. I don’t just mean randomly generated items, but that is included. I also mean stats. Go back to the D&D core that even D&D is leaving behind, and make each character truly different. There are more positives than just different players as well if you look for it.
- Story: Another holdover from AC where the story was unparalleled. I want to see a story that is continuous through the years of play. Give people something to follow. I want real stories published, not just try to piece them together (although I do want that too). I mean at its core this is what RPGs are about but most of them don’t really do much with stories.
- Dynamic Content: It’d be nice if someone figured out a way to make content more fluid. I mean I like the various quests games come up with, but I’d also like to see content that actually happens without real scripting or design. This is the holy grail, stuff that happens just on the fly, because of other stuff, or due to players making it.
- Fantasy: I know a lot of people are sick of the fantasy games in the genre, but at the same time SciFi thus far hasn’t fit very well. I also haven’t been particularly happy with what has come thus far from the fantasy setting. I don’t think EQ’s fantasy was half bad, and AC’s was great though they stopped continuation. UO also was decent, but the newer ones all comin out, they aren’t very good.
- Original: One of the big faults of EQ is lack of originality. Everything is really generic. It is as if they took the base D&D and put it directly into MMO format, which I guess isn’t bad, but I need something new even if it is the fantasy setting. I love AC for this. I want something different, different races, different monsters, different cities. Show me something I haven’t seen before.
- Open-ended: I would like to see a game where it isn’t just levels, monster fighting and quests. One that is rewarding even if you don’t fight. One that allows a number of different forms of fun and activity. Another holy grail if you will.
- Tradesklling: Going with my last one, I’d like to see tradeskilling done better. The reason it is crap is because devs think it is unpopular so they do it half hazardously, yet it was immensely popular in UO so obviously there is something to tradeskilling.
There’s my base list. I have a few more, but I honestly don’t want to share them at this point because those are the ones that aren’t stolen from elsewhere. More than happy to share what I want to see in games that was stolen from elsewhere.