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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.

-me

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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.

Quote:
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.

-----------------------------
Quote:
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.

Swearing

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.

Noobism

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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Wow, good - I can see this is going to be a nice long list which should inspire lots of ideas for solutions to these problems. [smile] I'll list a few more of mine then:


Marriage - Some games allow marriage, but only between a male avatar and a female avatar, which I personally think is just stupid. I can't offhand think of a game which allows poly marriage, although there's no particular reason why not to. I also don't know of any MMOs which have explored the possibility of letting players romance and marry NPCs, which might make for better gameplay since NPCs are always available but with other players it's hard to synchronize your online time, and what's the point of being married to someone if you never see them? There's also the question of whether marriage should or shouldn't have gameplay benefits and handicaps. In A Tale in the Desert your spouse can use all your items and resources and you can use all of theirs, so marriage can have a large gameplay impact.

Mandatory Combat - I personally have no interest in playing a game where I may be attacked at any time, or where I can't progress in the game without slaughtering monsters or, worse, other players. Combat can be fun, but I believe it should be treated as an optional minigame, confined to a particular area such as an arena, a hunting ground, or wilderness/dungeons which the player has no particular need to go to.

Immovability - In a strategy game it makes sense to have some units which are immovable after being built, but in an RPG it's really just annoying to have stuff which cannot be moved, especially something which takes as much investment as a house. What if you build your house in a location or shard which you then discover is laggy or underpopulated, why should you have to destroy it and rebuild it somewhere else just to improve your play experience a little? It's even worse if you have to create a whole new character or account to move to a different server. A similar problem is that if everyone has a house, because most players are online the landscape becomes a forest of empty houses, which is counterproductive to creating a feeling of participating in an active community. It would be great if only the houses of players who were currently logged in existed or were visible.

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Stray away from the 'select unit and auto-attack'. Make every single attack directed by the player. I know that I for one am very ready for an MMOFPS with dashes of RPG elements. That alone would kill the mindlessness of the genre.

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I agree with the static movement one it is so boring just standing there using skills.

I resent the statement where someone said "Guild wars had..." Guild wars is aliva and kicking and Nighfall did a good job coming out before the Burning Crusade.

The grind of doing the same thing to get to a goal is lame. The main reason I really enjoy GW (other than it's free) is that it provides a basic passive advancement. You gain all required exp through quests so you never need to train. Plus the low lvl cap makes it so there is not a lofty goal you'll never reach.

Customization is another bother. WoW has single classes which is nice as they expand with the talents but they only reach so far. In GW I can make a W/Mo instead of a Paladin. This means I still get both Rage and Energy and other than Energy strain I have no disadvantage. Multiclassing is a good thing.

Pure PvP is also a good thing GW let's you also use your PvE giving you better items and a Pet if allowed.

So I'm not GW raving I will say the ability to craft your own stuff is nice.

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Stats/skills/talents lock in.

I hate, hate, hate, hate this. I've hated it as long as I can remember. Games force me to choose stats or skills without any way to try them first, and then lock me into it forever or make it very expensive to change. Why? I don't understand this except as a money sink mechanism.

Although I would prefer a free system like Guild Wars has where I can change at any time, I have seen another fix to it: Battlefield 2142 has a rudimentary unlock tree, and they give you temporary bonuses in game that allow you to get "field upgrades" to unlock a skill for one session. As soon as you logout it disappears. You can only field upgrade an unlock one level up on the tree, so you can't unlock an insane amount of items.

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Quote:
Original post by SantaClaws
Stats/skills/talents lock in.

I hate, hate, hate, hate this. I've hated it as long as I can remember. Games force me to choose stats or skills without any way to try them first, and then lock me into it forever or make it very expensive to change. Why? I don't understand this except as a money sink mechanism.

Although I would prefer a free system like Guild Wars has where I can change at any time, I have seen another fix to it: Battlefield 2142 has a rudimentary unlock tree, and they give you temporary bonuses in game that allow you to get "field upgrades" to unlock a skill for one session. As soon as you logout it disappears. You can only field upgrade an unlock one level up on the tree, so you can't unlock an insane amount of items.


I totally agree, and to that I would add avatar gender/appearance, avatar race, and avatar class - there's no reason to lock players into these choices, or limit them. Gaia Online lets you change your basic avatar and username, but only twice, you're stuck with the third choice unless you create a new account. Why? Why can I change my avatar's hair color cheaply but to change eye and skin color and gender it's strictly limited like this? It's totally inconsistent.

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Common areas split into instances.

Guild Wars did this when I played it and it annoyed me to no end. Guild Wars is largely played in private instances, but there are "community" areas where players can gather in interact: namely town, for shopping and trading, and pre-quest areas, for gathering parties.

The problem was that community areas were split into instances to balance out player load. The side effect was making it very difficult to find people to connect with. You may have a near complete party that only needs a healer, but the healer looking for a party is in a different instance. You may want to sell your beans to someone, but the only person that wants to buy your beans can't see their amazing roundness and vegetable powers from a different instance.

Big pain.

[Edited by - SantaClaws on January 26, 2007 6:49:36 PM]

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I'll say the only thing I don't like is where skill is no longer involved in the game. When attacking gets so repetitive that players form a pattern of attacking and never have to change to their situation much. The class system really forces this system which annoys me.

If any of you have played Vanguard Saga of Heroes during the beta, something I loved was the Free-For-All PVP. That really keeps you on your edge. The idea that no matter what your doing you can be PVPed at almost any time. Forming parties just for safety and the help of a friendly rez when you get owned by a jerk is so cool. I mean how many games do you log off in when you go to get food for 5 minutes and if you don't you get a few units standing around you wondering if your really AFK so they can get a cheap PVP kill. :) , if you want a game where at any level your not safe, then it's that game.

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Original post by Palidine
Quote:
Root cause being that men now outnumber women in china like 1.5:1 so there are lots of stressed out single men)


An unfortunate consequence in a society that devalues the importance of women, especially since family size is restricted by means of severe tax penalties. Hopefully things will begin to change though as China realizes that they can't have a society of all men. My Uncle and Aunt have flown to China to adopt in the past and plan on going again in the future. The vast majority of children in the adoption programs are girls because sons are greatly valued and put up for adoption less frequently. There's also a higher rate of girl abortions compared to boy abortions. Anyway, didn't mean to get political here, but thought it was interesting that this problem has even migrated to games.

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Quote:
Original post by Sirisian
I'll say the only thing I don't like is where skill is no longer involved in the game. When attacking gets so repetitive that players form a pattern of attacking and never have to change to their situation much. The class system really forces this system which annoys me.

If any of you have played Vanguard Saga of Heroes during the beta, something I loved was the Free-For-All PVP. That really keeps you on your edge. The idea that no matter what your doing you can be PVPed at almost any time. Forming parties just for safety and the help of a friendly rez when you get owned by a jerk is so cool. I mean how many games do you log off in when you go to get food for 5 minutes and if you don't you get a few units standing around you wondering if your really AFK so they can get a cheap PVP kill. :) , if you want a game where at any level your not safe, then it's that game.


Lol that's my definition of a nightmare, I'd much rather play a game where I was always or mostly safe, but I can see how that would appeal to some gamers, knowing you could be attacked at any time would keep one's adrenaline flowing.

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I hate it when stat distribution is designed so that misclicking once will make you waste points.
Note: On the line of trying out stats before how about having the option of "temporary stat raise" that could be reversed any time but would cost the double amount of stat points.[so choosing stats finally is like doubling your points]

I hate it when the option to choose stats is totally useless, because the stats that are useful for a certain class are predetermined and you can are forced to divide your stats equally cause of diminishing effect or increased costs for higher stat value, stat choice should be for specialization.

I hate it to invest points in skills that become totally useless once you reach a certain level or get a certain other skill.

I hate it if I have to choose between thinks i like and the efficiency of my char(having to use the same point pool for crafting and fighting skills for example, at least in games that are focused on fighting)

I hate it when I like the look of a certain equipment but can not keep it cause there a more powerful equipment.(either give me some choice of equipment with the same stats, so I can choose from or the ability to change the stats while keeping the same look.(tranafer of power between weapons?))

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Quote:
Original post by Wush
I hate it when stat distribution is designed so that misclicking once will make you waste points.
Note: On the line of trying out stats before how about having the option of "temporary stat raise" that could be reversed any time but would cost the double amount of stat points.[so choosing stats finally is like doubling your points]

I hate it when the option to choose stats is totally useless, because the stats that are useful for a certain class are predetermined and you can are forced to divide your stats equally cause of diminishing effect or increased costs for higher stat value, stat choice should be for specialization.

I hate it to invest points in skills that become totally useless once you reach a certain level or get a certain other skill.

I hate it if I have to choose between thinks i like and the efficiency of my char(having to use the same point pool for crafting and fighting skills for example, at least in games that are focused on fighting)

I hate it when I like the look of a certain equipment but can not keep it cause there a more powerful equipment.(either give me some choice of equipment with the same stats, so I can choose from or the ability to change the stats while keeping the same look.(tranafer of power between weapons?))


Would you be happy with a game which didn't have points which needed to be invested into skills and stats? Or would that be too simple/boring?

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Games like Eve which are too group centric, all the content seems to be designed for Corps, you basically cant get anywhere unless you join a corp, and if you do the majority are bossy and you end up feeling like your just doing a job, and working to make the corp richer.

Character creation and how you progress with said character, when I begin to play any RPG I dont know how I want to play before I do play(although you are expected to know) or do I know the best way to build my character or what skills would be good before I actually use them(again you are expected to know these). Theres no try before you buy or ways to test the skills beforehand or change skills as you please. Your locked into playing one way only and you have to decide the way before you've started, which is why I dont usually get far from character creation in some RPGs.

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Points are only scalable choices, you can not remove the choices because you have to limit the power of chars(otherwise their would be no effort no accomplishment in doing something), however it does not always make sense to scale choices in such fine degree like current game do.

If I decide I want to be fast, really fast I will try to raise my speed(agility etc) as much as I can afford without ruining my character ot neglecting other thinks I want, however do I really have to repeat this decision again and again every level?
Does the game producers really think I can figure out the perfect fine tuning for my purpose at the first try?
Rather than that having certain choices like (1)strong,(2)very strong,(3)elite strong,(4)once in a hundred years strong and some additional mechanism to help me fine tune this would be enough.
For example how about letting the Game vaguely calculate the usefullness a certain value has based on what kinds of skills I use and which stats decide their efficiency and them adjusting/finetuning my stats accordingly?
This also will make a character more flexible as he can adjust to changes in the users playing style.

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Quote:
Original post by Torquemeda
Games like Eve which are too group centric, all the content seems to be designed for Corps, you basically cant get anywhere unless you join a corp, and if you do the majority are bossy and you end up feeling like your just doing a job, and working to make the corp richer.


I would have to say that the Corporations in EVE are one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.

Of course, finding a GOOD one isn't easy, but nothing stops you from forming your own and joining alliances.


I also like how EVE characters work. You don't gain skill from killing things, or doing any actions. You can even earn skill while you don't log on for a week! Your skills are updated real time, based on your characters stats and what skill you study. You buy skills, then study them. Starting level 1 skills can take a few minutes, or hours to learn, while higher level skills can take a month or more to finally learn.

What does this mean? Two people that start at the same time, and one can play 12 hours a day, where the other can play maybe 1, they can stay roughly equal in skill power.

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Quote:
Original post by Wush
I hate it when I like the look of a certain equipment but can not keep it cause there a more powerful equipment.(either give me some choice of equipment with the same stats, so I can choose from or the ability to change the stats while keeping the same look.(tranafer of power between weapons?))

Interesting idea. I think I would rather like it if, instead of finding items, I would find orbs of different types of power in the world, and then I could imbue the properties onto different pieces of equipment at well (a la materia).

Quote:
For example how about letting the Game vaguely calculate the usefullness a certain value has based on what kinds of skills I use and which stats decide their efficiency and them adjusting/finetuning my stats accordingly?

I agree. I've always liked the idea of a non-permanent system that automatically adjusts my stats based off of how I'm using my character.

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