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Problems In Mmos

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There are often threads asking what people think would be good features to put in an MMO (or other type of game), but it's difficult to come up with positive suggestion. Instead I find it helpful to look at what is wrong with other games of the same type and figure out how I could do it better. But, I can't really go subscribe to every mmo and try them all out to see what their problems are. So, for my (and perhaps others') use, please list in this thread anything that particularly annoyed you in any MMO that you played. (But don't list technical problems like lag and bugs, only design problems since this is a design exercise.) You can also list a problem which you heard about or were afraid of which prevented you from even attempting to play a particular MMO. Also, please note what problem each game came from, and describe the problem enough that it will make sense to someone who has never played the game. Thanks! [smile]

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Some examples:

Clothing - Gaia Online has had many problems with its avatar clothing system. They recently switched from having male-only items and female-only items to making all new items usable by both genders, which I thought was an excellent change. But one problem they still have is color inconsistency. They do not have a standard range of colors. New items come out in 1-4 colors, and they never add new-color versions of old items. Even items which say they are the same color do not actually look the same color; last month they released flame wings and flame hair, but they look terrible together because the flames are slightly different colors. Result: many possible clothing combos are unusable because they clash horribly.

User Gender vs. Avatar Gender - I am a woman but I prefer to play with a male avatar; I have also known male players who prefer to play with a female avatar. Unfortunately many MMO's force the gender listed in the player's personal info and the gender of the player's avatar to be the same.

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Unfortunately many MMO's force the gender listed in the player's personal info and the gender of the player's avatar to be the same.

I can think of only one MMO that restricts gender (though i can't remember the name but it was a Chinese MMO and the "fix" was mandated by the government b/c people were spending real world cash to give presents to female toons in the hopes that they were actually a woman. Root cause being that men now outnumber women in china like 1.5:1 so there are lots of stressed out single men). Every MMO i've ever played allows you to pick whatever gender you want with no restrictions.


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Stationary combat.
Disregarding the technical question of capability due to latency, this is my biggest pet peeve with today's MMO games. The characters feel like they're rooted in the ground during combat and other interactions. If I hit someone with a powerful attack, I want to see them go flying, slide back, etc.

Movement around target.
e.g. z-targeting in the Zelda games. You press and hold a button, and your movement becomes relative to your target -- your character stays facing the target; pressing the movement keys move towards, away, or circle around the enemy. The result of this missing in games is the ridiculous PvP fights you see where people look like they are jousting or running around in circles slashing madly.

Long panels of text... whatever happened to cinema?
This one isn't as bad, but I still find myself yearning for it when I play MMORPGs.

I would love if there was a bit more attention paid to creating a cinematic feel for things like receiving a quest. Focus the camera on the character's face as he's telling me something, pan over to an object if he tells me something regard it, show me a cinematic angle of the fortress I have to attack.

I haven't seen this done so I don't know for sure if I would like it, but it's done in a lot of console RPGs and I've always loved it there.

The eternal grind.
I'm not convinced that the grind for experience is a requirement to make a fun MMO with a long life. Everything uses it as a crutch because it's the standard, but I'd like to see a mainstream MMO that doesn't require the timesink to be effective in the world -- even if it's only for a portion of the world. I'd like to see an MMO that depends on your abilities as a player to learn the game as opposed to your character's level.

A good example of this is World of Warcraft vs Guild Wars. I was a big fan of the idea of World of Warcraft's PvP battlegrounds concept, but when it was implemented I was disappointed. The battlegrounds were segmented in such a way that you are matched with players in a range of levels: levels 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, etc. If you're a level 31 playing in the 31-40, you're kind of crippled. If you are a level 60 and you haven't raided to get the best gear, you're also kind of crippled.

Guild Wars, on the other hand, had a PvP mode where everyone's level was maxed out and you were all given a choice of a selection of high level equipment to use in PvP. Your character's skill choices were limited to the ones you had unlocked in single player, however. I feel this is an excellent balance.

Clothing (...)
Yeah that's a bad problem. Consistency in the art is really important to making the world feel like a real place... I would tend to prefer less choice as a player to a well designed, consistent look and feel.

I do like the concept that Warhammer Online is using for character customization: instead of customizing all your clothing, you customize "trinkets" on your character. You can collect skulls and such and decorate your character with them. As a result, you get a character that definitely looks like a big, tough warrior, but the player still gets to make something unique.

I think its a bit too restrictive to not allow ANY customization of clothing, but I do think its moving down the right path to focus on well designed accessories with a lot of character, as opposed to trying to create a million different pieces of clothing that all look nice.

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I like having lots of clothing choices, I just think there should be a standard 10 or so colors such that every article of clothing either comes in or can be dyed to all of those colors. I don't think there's too much choice in any mmo's clothing, just that the available choices are uneven - perhaps there are 10 pairs of black pants that look almost the same, but no purple pants.

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I remember three MMOs:

FFXI - This one has a lot of grinding, but its feels okay because you grind in a party. I think that grinding is not what made me quit, it was the game economy. Pass a certain level, most of the players I know are too deep into hunting High Notorious Monsters (HNM) to get rare equipments, there is a subculture at the high level on equipments, and I never got into camping NMs, and the guilds are mostly about hunting NMs. I wasn't interested in that game life style and left.

WoW - I didn't like the artwork. There was too much clipping. Playing solo was kind of boring, and grouping with others did not give me a sense of grouping.

Silkroad Online - Grinding and the need to get good equipments in order to be effective in anything. Silkroad Online also had an odd handicap in quests. (All quests were "Kill monster X and get Y drops").

So the problems I had were:
- Combat without interactions among players;
- Equipment/Stats-driven game culture.

Most of the time, I am not interested in changing cloths. I want one set of cloths that allows me to identify my character. Silkroad Online and FFXI had fewer choices of clothings and characters. But I didn't mind it because it just happened that I picked a rather rare combination of character and armor/job suit.

If I have the inventory space, I will always carry a set of cloths that I want to wear as oppose to the ones that I should wear. I change when I am not fighting.

There are often threads asking what people think would be good features to put in an MMO (or other type of game), but it's difficult to come up with positive suggestion.

I think that the problem is in how the question is asked. To ask this question, you need to provide a context, a vivid description or a demo. It is because ultimately, you are trying to ask "What are the good features that will work with my design?" not "What are the good features of a generic MMO?"

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Guest Anonymous Poster

- Monthly fees

- Ridiculous ranges of powers, abilities, and items. This seems to feed the human desire to grow enormously powerful and gain vast wealth. After a while, characters are so powerful there are very few threats. Games without any real risk are boring. I feel that confining the power range more would create much more interesting and balanced gameplay.

- Too generic. While I certainly haven't played all or even a great number of MMOGs, they all start looking, sounding, and playing the same. Although, this is probably true of most genres. I think this has to do with most goals set forth by the developer - kill X, get to location Y, or bring back Z.

- Not enough meaningful choices. Any decisions made don't make any real change. The world is more or less static.

- The other people. Obviously, this is necessary for an MMOG, but what I'm looking for from a session is almost never the same as someone else, so finding groups is exceedingly difficult. For instance, I'm usually not interested in PvP, but if that's an option in the gameworld, you're going to end up with PKers. If I'm going through the game for the first time or three, I like to see and do everything. Others, who are on their 38th time through, want to rush through as quickly as possible.

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Since the original post didn't specify the context, these are some other problems:

Kill Stealing - This is where player A 'steals' the exp of player B by killing the monster that the B has been attacking.

Monster training and player kill - This is where player A trains a group of monsters to player B, and let the monsters kill B.

Gold farming - this is where player A kills many monsters in an area in order to get drops from the monster. Usually A kills the monsters so fast that other players cannot level up properly in the same area.

Botting - This is where a player character is controlled by a botter program instead of by a real human player.

Farming - This is similar to botting, but a player has paid another player to level up the character.

Power leveling - This is where a high level player helps a low level player level up very quickly.


Scamming - This can be related to hacks but sometimes not. Basically, player A tries to trade an item with player B, but player B did not give the exact item, and keep A's money.

Inflation - The prices of equipments becomes very high due to gold farming and other activities.

Sexual Harrassment - and other privacy issues. Part of this problem comes from the level of moderation, part of it comes from the game design.


Noobist nudity

In-game advertisement - and flooding the screen space with messages

PC blocking NPCs - blocking the NPCs such that the player can't click on the NPC to interact with it.

Language Barriers - Lack of translator. FFXI has a translator.

Lack of unicode characters support

Server switching - Player A from server H wants to play in server K but can't.

Lack of or poor in-game messaging system

Lack of mapping capability or in-game landmarks to locate friends

Level difference preventing friends to play together

Diffculty in travel preventing friends to play together

Can't pause - sometimes this include can't pause during a cutscene to read the text

Lack of macroing capabilities - for macroing emotes, greetings, gestures, equipment change, etc...

Lack of nice/cute/pretty environment to simply sit down and enjoy the scene without being aggroed. (In Silkroad online, there is Harmony Therapy, it creates a circle area where the players are free from aggro from most monsters. The duration of the circle is 6 minutes)

Lack of signature or any customized static/dynamic message - (When a player clicks on your character and 'examine', the player should see your description of your character if you had included one.)

[Edited by - Wai on January 25, 2007 10:45:21 PM]

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Static NPC's, if they are gonna totally static, just leave them out

Player Shops, move it to a system that doesn't require players to leave there system on, causing lag, and often with half the stores out of stock

Quest systems could use some working on, instead of defaulting to kill X monster X times

Making uber equipment useless, Clothing should be for self identifation, same with weapons, make some stronger then other, but overall, unless its in a game where they break, you keep the same weapon all game, or you buy them for looks, not for the added attack

customizable housing System, ability to change and modify your house, i spent ages on UO just making houses, alot of mmorpgs, give you some static house that you teleport to and from

Adding new stuff often.. a MMORPG isn't a finished game, it is not finished until it closes for good, for free ill let em off, but if im paying i want new content Every single day, extra stuff for events, instead of Addons

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Quests are fine but they are not a goal : There is no game goal in most MMORPG apart from the vaguely "Become the most powerful character ever" objective. The only game I know with an attainable goal is A Tale In The Desert : the game has an end toward which characters work. There could also be a goal for characters (Become so powerful that you "ascend" as a god for instance). Beyond this point the character would be still playable but considered "finished". You could also begin a new character.

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