Sunday, February 8, 2009

Things I'll try to remember when I am making an MMORPG.

This is a list of things I want to see an existing or new MMORPG address. Some of these are totally pie-in-the-sky ideas and I know they aren't easy to do. That's ok, because having an idea and trying to do something creative is very valuable. More valuable than just rehashing the same old stuff.

No server shards. This might well be up there in fantasy land, but I don't want to have to re-roll, or pay to transfer a character in order to play with my friends. I don't want to have to coordinate friends playing on my server. My character data can't be more than a couple kilobytes in size, so there's no reason it can't really exist on every shard at one time.

No crafting. Don't even bother. Unless you are making Barbie Dress Maker, being a seamstress should not be how I spend time in the game. Sewing, farming, fishing, and making armor are all things boring people in town do. Don't make me do it.

Levels aren't mandatory. I know, I know, everyone is doing it. But don't limit yourself. Think about other games out there and how they handle character growth. Levels aren't inherently evil, but you don't have to just make me grind out eighty of them to let me grow my character. Honestly, I have other things to do.

Have a vision and don't lose it as you grow. Think about combat and how you want it to flow. Is it fast and brutal? Is it slow and methodical? Is it somewhere in between? If you can visualize how you want the game to feel and play, you can keep true to that vision. This, in turn, means the people who like that vision will want to play your game, and they'll keep playing as long as you don't suddenly get amnesia and forget what made people fall in love with your game.

Be better at theory-crafting than your players. Do I need to elaborate on that?

Don't hide your game from me. That is, let me in on the secrets so I can play the game as well as I want to. Don't make me have to reverse engineer your game to be good at it. I don't want to "discover" your game. I want to play it.

Don't make me run places. Seriously. I understand that you want your world to seem HUGE and EPIC. But holding down the "w" key or using auto-run is not fun times. You should also be sure that no one ever has to run back to a previous town for five minutes to just finish a quest. That's really frustrating.

Graphics should be good and consistent, but they don't need to be amazing. I know the flash makes good screen shots and makes people go "ooohh" and "aahhhh". But after three months, when people have turned everything down so they can deal with twenty five people on their screen casting crazy stuff, it won't matter so much. Better to spend that time adding depth and color to the world, instead of shadows and bump-mapped surfaces.

Do you want player opinions? Make your game client gather the data. I would rather answer questionnaires in the game every month than know that your number one source of player input is a bunch of jerks posting in all caps in the forums. I think I die a little bit inside every time I visit forums these days.

Gear isn't character growth. It can be important, but it should always be secondary to skill and character ability.

If your game is about grouping up with people, I want to see options and features. If your concept of a guild is a banner over a character's head and a chat channel, you're doing it wrong.

I think that's it for now. Sometimes a good list is a good venting.

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