After much arduous digging through the interweb, I’ve read through ten threads and over 1000 comments of MMO wishlists from players. I’ve also interviewed a few friends. This list represents the deepest desires of the most vocal MMO players as of 2013. Mind you, I discovered about 100 different features voiced, but these are the top 20 most frequent, and most passionately argued (ordered by loudness). Some of them are pie in the sky, but most are well within reach, if only someone would listen. Enjoy! Also, check out the 10 Least Wanted Features that I found.
Priority 1: Deafening
- Vast, open world to explore with no instancing, no loading screens.
Leaps and bounds ahead of the pack, “open world” easily took top priority over any other feature. Isn’t this a reason why each of us enjoyed our very first MMO to some extent? The sense of boundless freedom, or even just the illusionary perception of it is gripping. Studios considering a heavily-instanced MMO, beware; it defies the heart’s desire of your average player.
Priority 2: Cacophonous
- Character customization
- “to make my character unique … from the crowds of other players”
- Player impact
- “… If I burn down a building I want other players to see it burned down and then if some farmer rebuilds it later, I want the NPCs to remember that it was burned down. I don’t want everything to reset…” [by jreyst].
- Non-combat classes: Alternate progression
- “let me increase my level entirely as a baker”, “I want to exclusively play an explorer, a politician, an assassin, a merchant…”
The next most common requests were driven by character and progression. If you’re going to invest 1000 hours in an online world, who wouldn’t want it to add up to something? You’d better be able to define your character how you like… to be more than yet another avatar. Your actions ought to matter in the world, and be able to alter it for better or for worse.
Priority 3: Clamorous
- Player-made shops
- Player-made quests
- Reasonable crafting (not insanely complex, but not “wait for a bar” simple)
- Casual friendly
- Travel has meaning (no teleporting, quick-travel, or flying mounts)
- Simple yet strategic, action-oriented combat
- Subclassing/changing classes
It’s curios to see that there were, in fact, outcries for more convenient travel options. However the requests for less travel quickly overtook them in numbers.
Priority 4: Insistent
- Skill-based crafting
- “I want to be able to make sword X better than anyone else, and become known for it…”
- Player-made buildings, towns, cities… (interesting note: not “player housing”)
- Encourages multiplayer and grouping
- Weather System
Priority 5: Emphatic
- Permadeath (or meaningful consequences)
- Focus on exploration
- Easy to group (if you want)
- Easy to solo (if you want)
And there you have it. If I were designing an MMO from scratch, I’d want to sit down and listen to the deafening peals of players wants and needs first. It might just help create something that would hook people for longer than 6 months.
That said, there’s some issues with this style of listening. This list came from forum posts, blogs, and comments, which means that only the most vocal players are represented. I have no idea what the true average player desires. But I’d guess that the online groups are at least somewhat representative. There’s also the old saying that “People don’t know what they want until they see it.”
“If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”
Attributed to Henry Ford.
Perhaps we’ll not know what magic sauce we want until someone invents it. At any rate, there’s few markets as turbulent, and unexpectedly backstabbing as the MMO market. Time will tell.