The Ultimate MMO

Now for something a little different. Yesterday evening I logged on to warcraft and ran Firelands in the continuing quest to get our priest the legendary staff for the guild. I then had dinner and afterwards logged swtor and played through Korriban with my new sith warrior. Perhaps it was playing them in quick succession that made me wonder about the ultimate mmo. The ultimate mmo isn’t warcraft and it’s not swtor, it would be a mixture of both and more. So this is my recipe for my dream mmo.

Class quests
My absolute favourite part of swtor are the class quests. They give reason to alt levelling and, if done properly, can educate players on the finer, class specific, skills they have. For example, a rogue pickpocketing or other such fun as seen in the recent ‘Fangs of the Father’ quest chain. Swtor has class quests that are more story based than skills based. This is a good thing as I do love the story but I think adding in skills would also be good. Otherwise if any class could do it why is it so special?

Effecting Change
Effecting or affecting? I googled for the answer and I’m still not sure. Anyway, back to the point. The problem with games is that they have a persistent world. Yes they are bringing in phasing in some places but generally what the player does has no impact on the world around them. In my fantasy mmo this wouldn’t be the case. There would be a handful of zones and each zone would be for most level brackets. When you reach the end of the level bracket and/or the end of the quest line then the zone would change to show what you’d done. The argument against this is it cuts players off from one another, and so they can’t go back and help a friend for example. However, I’d introduce a wayback machine where you could toggle the phase and give yourself a buff (that would persist through death, have to cancel it to lose it) that would mean the zone would appear as it did earlier.

How would this affect raids or 5 mans? Well, once you’d gone and killed them once then you would be part of the world where they were dead. However, you can go back and re-fight them to hone skills and relive the glory of your greatest fights.

What about nodes for gatherers? I know in zones where there’s phasing there’s ‘ghost’ nodes where you try and gather them and can’t. Either this is because the phasing makes them disappear when you get close, or because someone you can’t see is gathering it at the same time. I’d have it so the nodes belonged to the phase rather than the zone which should prevent both issues.

Difficulty level
I never played warcraft in classic but my impression was that the endgame was insanely difficult. Not necessarily because the mechanics were complex but because of the various resistances, buff times etc. that were needed. I believe this mostly continued through burning crusade but wrath changed things. Raiding became a lot more accessible certainly. If an idiot mage (as I was) can get to 11/12 towards the end of the expansion the difficulty was certainly not difficult. Blizz tried to reverse this at the start of cata but people now had the expectation that they’d be able to faceroll certain things and get others eventually. Now they have that expectation ever changing it so that they can’t will be met with massive resistance, and therefore be impossible.

In my fantasy mmo the difficulty level would be there and would be set. While I know that it’s a little hypocritical as I’ve benefited from the nerfs to Firelands and Dragon Soul, I would have gone on without them and got whatever I could. The very casual players could do normal dungeons, those willing to put some thought and tactics in could handle heroics. Then for raids the dedicated but not hardcore players (much like myself I think) could go through normal mode and should be able to complete it by the end of the tier. Then you have the hardcore players who would hopefully be adequately challenged by heroic mode. I suppose because there’s a difference between serious talented raiders and true hardcore realm first chasers there might need to be two hard modes. The hard mode for normal people and then the insane mode for the insane people.

No realms
Well obviously there would be servers but the player wouldn’t see them, instead it would be more like phases. Now I’m not too sure about the technical limitations of this. There would obviously be no trouble with zoned places like dungeons or raids but out in the world is a different story. I think swtor does something a bit like this with a mechanic called sharding but I don’t know much about it. Anyone, the general idea would be rather than calling a realm home you’d call a guild home. There’d never be any problem of making a new friend, and finding out they play, only to realise it’s on a different server. The focus would be very much on playing with friends.

No factions
Factions are a staple of mmo’s, or at least I think they are. Both warcraft, with horde vs alliance, and swtor with empire vs republic have them. In principle they’re a good idea but they do stop friends from playing together. In my fantasy mmo allegiance would be a lot more fluid. The only characters you can’t world pvp with would be your guild (you’d have to duel with them instead) but everyone else would be fair game. This would also mean production would have time to make twice as much content, as all content would be available to all players.

Endgame problems
Levelling is one thing but then there’s the endgame. What would players do there? Logging for dailies to grind for tokens isn’t exactly much fun. It’s also not like everyone raids so you need a range of content for a variety of different players – and a lot of it. You can’t make people run the same content over and over as they will get bored. I think that the answer lies in how we view levelling in a way. Right now you level super fast at early levels with the level rate coming slower and slower until you level cap. While I can understand it’s to hook people and give them a feeling of achievement it does make the levelling process unbalanced. What if it took a long time to level all the way through and therefore the level cap was only level 5 or something. This could then be raised frequently without the numbers getting to silly levels and by frequently I mean frequently. This would make levelling a journey rather than a race to the finish as the idea would be you’d always be levelling or certainly levelling most of the time.

Now the argument against this would be that people want to play with their friends. If player A recruits player B two years after he started playing then player B has a hell of a lot of catching up to do. That defeats the whole idea of levelling being a journey through rather than a race. I think the answer lies in separating level and group content. PvP in swtor works on this principle where everyone is boosted to the same level, a measure taken I believe to reduce queue times. In terms of loot a personal loot system, like warcraft is introducing in mists for lfr, would be used. The gear allocated to people would be of the right stats for whatever their current real level is but the look would be from that raid. This has the added benefit of raids never being made obsolete. All tiers could be run for the top gear stats with the current tier having the new look, and of course being the new content.

That’s just raiding though which isn’t for everyone. There would be battlegrounds, arenas, world objectives etc. for the pvp players, but pvp isn’t for everyone either. I’m not too sure what to suggest as my imagination is clearly lacking. There would have to be something though.

Legacy System
I love the basic premise of swtor’s legacy system but I don’t love all of it. The last name thing shouldn’t be for every character especially given that you can designate rivals etc. which aren’t likely (though they could be) to be related. Yes I know there would be problems if everyone could have multiple last names as they’re unique, so I guess the solution is to make them non-unique, last names aren’t unique in the real world after all. On the whole though I really like the family tree idea as well as having benefits unlocked which is a bit like guild levels in warcraft.

Character customization
Both warcraft and swtor have a number of different options for various features but that’s it, there is a finite number of possibilities. I’d have customization on sliders like on Dragon Age so you can literally create your own personal look. Then for currency once in game you could cheaply change your hair style or colour. If you want to slim down or bulk up that would cost a bit more and if you want to visit a plastic surgeon to change face shape or scars that would cost a lot. Then a transmogrify thing would also be good and perhaps part of the legacy system. When you’ve unlocked a certain look then you can scroll through a menu and pick it, saves having to store countless bits and pieces of armor anyway.

Nuts and Bolts
Not much to say about these except the mmo would have to have them:

  • Dungeon finder
  • Guild matching
  • Achievements
  • Pets and mounts (would show all of them and where to find them, ones not attained would be in black and white)

Conclusion
I’ve probably missed a lot and should probably sit on this post a while to think. However, it’s monday and I’ve got to post something so my random thoughts on the ultimate mmo it is.

1 thought on “The Ultimate MMO

  1. Hmm, have you checked out Guild Wars 2? It sounds as if quite a bit of what I got the feeling you’re after will be in that game (plus the benefit of not having a subscription fee 😉 ). For example, zones are level specific, and when you switch between zones, you scale in level temporarily so you’re always “the right” level (this will apply to dungeons as well). Also, it doesn’t have phasing for each individual player, but the world actually changes all the time. So there’s a possibility you’ll miss out on stuff, but these world events will go back and forth all the time so you can always go back and do it later, or help out with the next alt you level up ^^

    Oh, and you do have a personal story, and it’s likely that only doing that will get you through the whole game, but you can choose to only do those, or only do world events, or mix ’em up however you want =) And the rate at which you level up is linear.. =D

    I highly recommend you check it out, there’s some great clips on youtube, Totalbiscuit gives some nice impressions for example. Here’s a link to one of his latest videos of GW2 if you’re interested, this particular video is about 42 mins long so watch it if you have time 😉 http://bit.ly/GYFw22

    And if you haven’t already figured this out, I am _so_ gonna buy GW2 when it comes! ^^

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