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Think of a time when you went back to a store or restaurant and an employee there remembered your name. That simple act probably gave you warm feelings (and might help retain your business!). How about a day when all of your customers were angry or just apathetic, and then you had that one customer that was cheerful and grateful for your help? Positive encounters like these make lasting impressions and it is our mission to better serve the community by creating as many of them as possible.

Ten Features an MMO Must have at release 2012 edition

Y Foil Hat Wards off MMO DevsRoughly two years ago I penned an article titled “Ten features an MMO must have at release” which, as you might imagine, talked about ten features an MMO should have at release. The interesting thing about running a blog that has become more popular as time goes on is that the vast majority of your audience has (thankfully?) not read your older posts. Those posts are a gold mine of free content and I thought it would be interesting to judge where I stand now versus where I stood there. Does Ferrel agree with Ferrel minus two? It is time to find out! These are the ten features I think any new MMO must have at release!

Official Forums

My first requirement for an MMO then and now is official forums. In 2010 developers were going through this phase where they felt they didn’t need official forums. They farmed that niche out to fan sites. This resulted in a total breakdown of communication between player and developer. More importantly, it made it extremely difficult for new non-veterans to get support. To say this was a bad idea that failed miserably would be an understatement. Negative or not, you had to have an official forum then, you do now, and you will in the future. Why? There should be no question for where a player goes to provide feedback that will be heard, get accurate support, and build a community.

The Trial

I also felt that an MMO needed to have a trial at release. My argument was that if you were worried that you couldn’t sell your game in the trial it was probably not worth buying. I still agree with myself but I’m taking it a step further. The industry has moved to the endless but capped trial and I think that is for the best. Seven days is a very inconvenient amount of time for anyone. You get the demo, play a few hours, go to bed, head to work, come home, and by the time you get back to the game half of your time is lost. A new MMO needs to have the endless but capped trial. Get new players in without any effort, get them hooked, and convert them.

The End Game

New MMOs tend to create a great starting experience to get players in the door and hooked. New MMOs are often all “front loaded” and quickly fall out as you get further along. I’d like to say I was wrong but MMOs continue to be extremely easy to level. The race to the top has gotten shorter and shorter. If your game is front loaded and your end game is dull people are going to find out not in months but weeks. Some might find out in days. If a new MMO doesn’t release with some sort of end game challenge I’m not interested!

Player Conveniences

I am going to rapid fire the next few because I just can’t disagree with myself. You need the ability to re-spec, have a map, a bank, a mail system, and an auction house. Despite the fact that these are large features and, in 2010, we talked about how much that would slow a game’s release, they’re just too common now to lack them. These are things that players expect within one month of release or less.

Player Organizations

My final item in 2010 was better player organizations. We haven’t really come very far since then. Games are doing better but a lot more could be done to the guild experience. We are just now moving into the guild leveling and perks but I’d like to see a system that is more akin to how characters level. Guilds should gain experience for participating in the activities they do. If you defeat a raid boss that should unlock something. If your guild members win their 100th PvP match that should unlock something different! I’d like to see guilds customized to what sort of activities they do instead of just grinding inane chores. We’ll get there one day!

Modular Classes

Rift has ruined all MMORPGs for me. As a player that focuses on healing I get rather tired of being a one trick pony. Sure I can heal well on raids and in groups, but when I’m not doing that I do terrible DPS, can’t tank, and am generally weak. Rift has swept in and said to me, “Ferrel, there is a better way.” Enter the soul system where I can have numerous different builds that let me do what I need to when I need to. People think I’m kidding, but I can’t go back. I can’t play an MMORPG where I’m locked into one role. I have no interest anymore. I want to heal but I refuse to be weak when I’m not healing! The only way I’m leaving my modular class is kicking and screaming!

Quick release cycle

Trion has also spoiled me with their release cycle. The quarterly or longer cycle that EQ2 and WoW use just doesn’t work for me anymore. Trion has proven that you can be successful and push out successful updates quickly. I’m not going to sit around and wait six months for a tiny patch that barely adds anything when I’m used to receiving big content for free!

So, not really

So there you have it, two years and nothing has really changed for me other than the modular classes and my expectations of what my money buys me. I’m certain there are some things I couldn’t live without these days but I don’t know that they’re “must haves” to be successful. I’d like to hear what others consider as necessary.

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4 Responses to Ten Features an MMO Must have at release 2012 edition

  1. Starseeker says:

    2 things I would love to see MMOs release with, with the guild tools is – A guild calendar that can be used to arrange events and sign ups for those guild members who do not use forums. And an alliance option where two or more guilds can have an interface to interact. Have a guild window and an alliance window, the alliance window shows all of your guilds alliances…the same chat functions of guild would work for an alliance…someone logs in to the alliance your notified, there’s a global chat for folks, you can see who is logged in to each guild, invite them, and see their zone/level just like a guild interface. It would make arranging things with an alliance force (I’m thinking of small 2 guild alliances as well as huge raid alliances like the CRA on crushbone in eq2) so much easier.

    • Ferrel says:

      I would love both of those features. An in game calendar with sign-ups is a no brainer for sure.

      I’m also pretty big on having an alliance window too. These days you often have a lot of guilds cooperating, why not make that easier for them?

  2. Ubba says:

    I would suggest more things:

    Loot.
    Epic loot should be epic. I’m a bit tired of games that has the same loot design for crappy loot as they got for epic – breathtaking loot, and every upgrade is a small improvement with almost the same design. “Oh, I see you got the same Oak Bugslayer Stick as all the wizards in Punk r Us have, great”. “No scum of the earth, I got the one and only GnomeStick, made from the earbone of 100 000 gnomes, carefully glued together with spit from all the dragons in the world! It’s epic….it just looks like the Oak Bugslayer Stick, but it’s slightly more brownish”. Bring back the good old EQ style, what you see is what you get, and let amazing loot be amazing. Devs must have balls enough to say: “Yes, we understand the GnomeStick is overpowered, almost gamebreaking, but working that crazy hard for this Stick only makes it fair that he should be able to zapp Gnomes to whatever zone he wants.”

    Contested mobs.
    Greatest recruiting tool ever. Let everyone see when you take down that roaming, huge NoobKillerKing and good people will come to you. For free. And stay. And make you even better.
    It also adds competition to the game. As a former known person would say; Winning.

    Scaling and flexibility.
    Make everything scaleable. Yes everything. You want to do a raid with 10 guys. Sure, why not. The final mob will scale to your raidsize and loot will either not be that awesome, or he will drop less items. You can be as many as you want, as long as it’s more than x. You want to try your luck against a contested mob? Sure, why not. We have a setup system for this mob, you have to summon the souls of 10 great horses and send them running in a circle around the mob, locking him and give you 15 minutes to get you stuff together. Of course he knows what is going to happen, and be sure; if he spots 100 gnomes in the hillside, he WILL dig up his GnomeStick from his hidden stash. But, if he sees 10 elves with their bows, he will charge you with the good old sword…still wearing a cool necklace though.
    Everything can be scaled, even your loot, you got a new stick, great, but you want to keep your old one because you like white sticks, ok, turn them both in and we can add some of the new stats to your old stick.

    And, more. What you point out in you ten features, Ferrel. Yes, I agree to all of those points, but those points really just touch the framework of a MMO. It’s what you need to organize a guild, or how to handle transactions. I would still claim that if you fulfill those features, adds a bunch of instances and daily quests, you still have a freaking boring game. Yes, you can swap classes midfight and discreetly reveal a lovly robe under that plate armor, but you are still killing your 10 spiders or clearing the same instance as yesterday. I miss a more fun way to progress, both as characters and as guilds (yes, I’ve been listening to Ken Rolston). But he is right, playing a game should be fun.

    I agree with what you write under the headline “player organizations”. This is what makes a good game, we need more ways to improve, and games need to move away from the “have you done your daylies yet?” mentality.

    TLDR;
    What Ferrel said. +
    Good loot that you can keep and love for many levels.
    Contested mobs.
    Scaling and flexibility in all aspects of the game.
    Fun.

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