Roughly 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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.