So what is it that you really want in an MMOG? Sounds like a
simple question doesn't it? I'd agree with that assessment, but as
we've all seen, this simple question has spawned more arguments, hurt
more feelings, and caused more corpse runs than any non-gamer would
believe. Since there are so many href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64656" target="_blank">possible
meanings to the question at hand (and since you don't want to
read a thesis), I'll narrow the topic down to several areas I think
need improving from the majority of development teams out there. Some
developers have done a better job than others in meeting player needs
and wants in some categories, while other areas have been largely
ignored by everyone. No two players will ever be able to agree on a
list of issues that need to be addressed in any game, but for this
week, I'm talking about character customization, player housing,
mounted combat, ship to ship battles, and underwater
goodness. Yeah, CoX is awesome like that.
To anyone that's been reading my articles, it will come as no surprise
that I'm a freak when it comes to my demands for character
customization. I can't stand playing a game where I look like 90% of
the population. In this category, there are both shiny legends and
unsympathetic goats. When talking about customization done right,
you'll be struck down with lightning by angry gods if you don't
acknowledge the genius of the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64684" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes/Villains
may currently hold the record (and they absolutely deserve it), but
before they threw their hat into the ring, style="font-style: italic;">Star Wars Galaxies
created an unheard of masterpiece when it released.
Up until that point, no game had given players so much intricate
control to make their chosen character exactly as they wanted. They may
not hold the title anymore, but they were the first to step up and
prove not only what could be done, but that there was a desperate need
for players around the world to create unique characters. To any
developer that may be reading this, please listen carefully: You can no
longer get away with giving us four hair styles, five set faces, and
the ability to change eye color. That's not going to cut it any more.
If you do choose to go the easy route, have no doubt that I'll call you
out on it every time. For those that do get it right, keep it up
because we love you for it!
When it comes to player housing, there seems to be two distinct camps
of thought. On one side of the coin, you have the individuals that feel
no game is complete unless they have the ability to build the home of
their dreams, with multiple options in terms of size and design. They
spend more time decorating and furnishing their home than they'll spend
in their local Department of Motor Vehicles in their entire life. On
the other side of things, you have the players like me that couldn't
care less about whether I have a home in a game or not. If a home is
provided (like in target="_blank">EverQuest
I'll happily spend a disturbing amount of time and loot creating the
look I want.
It's this dynamic split of a developer's
targeted demographic that makes the choice of adding housing to their
game a difficult one. I think most teams want to have this option added
at release, but in the end, it's something that always gets pushed off
to the back burner. I don't believe I've ever met a player that will
refuse to play a game that doesn't have housing, but if you are one, be
sure to let me know. Until then, I'll say that developers should spend
their time concentrating their efforts on other facets of their chosen
Age of Conan
actually does have color when you get out of the starter areas.
In any game players have ever been able to ride a mount in, we've heard
the constant cry for mounted combat. For every time I've heard this
complaint I've heard the technical reasons on why it hasn't been
possible in the past. Notice how I said the past though? This last
introduced their version of mounted combat and this week sees the
release of another form of mounted combat in href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64706" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Darkfall.
In the past, I've never cared that much about it, but with these two
possibilities, who among us can honestly say we haven't dreamed of
charging down an opponent on the back of a horse, dragon, or (from
those crazy folks at Blizzard), a motorcycle. Alright, I think the
motorcycle option is completely ridiculous, but you get my point.
Give a player more ways to kill a mob (or opponent) than they can
imagine, and you'll have a happy gamer. Why do you think geeks go crazy
over the variety of moves and abilities in games like style="font-style: italic;">Mortal Kombat? The
more variety we have in terms of death and destruction, the happier we
are. As another quick note to developers in regards to my statements in
this paragraph, learn it, live it, love it. Do this, and we'll be
beating down your doors with subscriptions.
Ship to ship combat may seem the same as mounted combat, but there are
too many variables to make this true. Controlling a ship by yourself
and battling other players would be an unrivaled accomplishment at this
point in time, but if you really want to get the froth flowing from the
mouths of geeks, allow players to man a large ship like a galleon. Each
person in the group could man a different station from lookout, to
captain, to cannoneer. I'll agree that it's an ambitious idea, but the
company that pulls it off (and pulls it off well) will be heralded as a
revolutionary and hailed as kings among men. Some href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64585" target="_blank">pirate
already exist - namely href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/52"
of the Burning Sea
- but we don't hear too much about them anymore. I think this is
because there are plenty of people like myself that simply couldn't
care less about pirates. I can hear the boos now, but let's face facts
- ninjas are, have been, and always will be cooler than pirates. So
rather than focusing on a pirate game, give us ship to ship combat in
large sandbox games like Vanguard.
Do this, and you'll have a winner on your hands.
It’s not just the battles above
the seas that we all crave though. Even early explorers knew that
untold treasures could be found beneath the waves. Whether they were
ancient ships full of gold or long forgotten civilizations they
discoveries that excited the blood and changed the way the world was
viewed forever. Ancient explorers aren’t the only ones that
had a craving to uncover the secrets of Poseidon’s realm.
blend in underwater better than a Dark Elf!
Ten years ago, I took my Wood Elven fighter that happened to be KOS
everywhere (Ralos Zek was the God of War - who else was I supposed to
pick?) down into an underwater dungeon at the bottom of a lake outside
of Unrest called Kedge Keep. For anyone that ever went, it was one of
the most memorable areas in any game they ever played. Was it because
of cool mobs, or awesome loot? That's certainly part of it, but the
real draw of exploring Kedge Keep was that it resided completely
underwater. To this day, I can't think of another game that had so much
to do underwater. target="_blank">World
Age of Camelot
had their moments of underwater goodness, but it really doesn't compare
to the extent that EverQuest used underwater zones. Why was I able to
play in an underwater area a decade ago, but I can't now? I absolutely
refuse to accept any answer based on a lack of technology. You also
can't tell me that you couldn't have some unbelievably awesome
adventures under the waves as well. So what gives, devs?
There you have it folks (and all you developers)! These are the items
we, the players, want in our games. Forget the excuses, forget the lack
of technology, forget the lack of time or funds. If a game ever
releases with all of the above components, without leaving out all the
standard fare we've come to expect, you'll virtually be guaranteed to
hit a home run. If you build it, they will come!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Game Page.