Top 20 Ideal MMO Features of 2013

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
  • Classless

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.

Meditatively,

-Machination

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5 thoughts on “Top 20 Ideal MMO Features of 2013

  1. Pingback: Least Wanted MMO Features in 2013 | Critical Hit

  2. I think it was Richard Bartle who observed that what players claim they want, what they actually want and what they do given a chance, are often 3 different things.

    What I’m surprised about (doesn’t necessarily mean I want or do not want certain things but that I expected for it to make it into the top 20) is lack of “more challenging content”, which was a popular complaint when I played WoW.

    As for the travel, it’s quite possible for different groups of players to have opposite desires. In this case, players may realize downtime (during travel) is important to socialize with one’s guildies or friends; on the other hand other players may agree but think downtime after a fight (more frequent but shorter) serves the same task much better.

  3. Interesting.. but what does it mean??

    a non-instanced environment is probably not that technically impossible with today’s computing power, but would this mean that anyone could wander into your raid? Or would ‘raid’ content simply go away and people would only have ‘world bosses’ to kill.

    perma-death. yeah, no. I didn’t spend 3 hours trying to level up a toon to level 5, only to have it die forever because I took on something too difficult. Anyone play Everquest? I didn’t, but hear it HAD horrendous death penalties (your body became lootable by other players, you lost XP and could lose levels, you had to run back naked to body if died in dungeon, etc.) and lost a ton of subscribers when WoW came around with minimal penalties.

    Player Impact sounds cool, but with 600,000 people per realm, I could imagine that poor farmer’s house would never stand again. Would he eventually move out; never to be rebuilt? Would he hire mercenaries to attack those that did burn it down? Would he build out of brick and not sticks.

    Personally, I have wanted a player ran store. Ok, I wanted vendors that I personally owned (like Jeeves) to give me a portion of the profits from people buying things from him.

  4. One Idea I particularly like is related to the open world and player impact topics. I really like the idea of an open world in which a player can do pretty much anything he potentially could do in real life.

    For example, one game that is supposedly coming out maybe in the next few years boasts that players can move around the world parkour style, meaning players can use the environment around them more dynamically then just the old “jump on that ledge then jump to the next ledge”. I’d love to see some more of this type of movement idea. Cause I’d love to be able to run up walls, sink a few arrows into a wall and climb up it that way, slide under low branches as I run, or basically do what many console single player games already offer but in an mmo setting.

    About none or less travelling, well that’s an interesting issue. I love all the travelling modes in the mmo’s I’ve played but they get old, much like driving in real life gets old. When you’re 16 you can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a car. When you’re 35, driving can be boring and even tedious to the point people fall asleep behind the wheel. For those reasons I’d say that travelling should still exist, but could be made more exciting, like being able to be knocked off a horse, have the flying ship you’re on be attacked. land, water and flying mounts should exist because vehicles and animal mounts exist in reality, just that reality is not so protected and simple as the game worlds in which these exist currently. Of course there should be stipulations put in place to protect people who do not want to be involved in an attack, player or NPC, to their travel mode of choice. An example would be that of a player who is afk for a moment during the travel or simply does not want to participate in the ensuing battle. Players like that should be allowed to be killed but I would say that in the situation that they do not participate in the fight, but still die, they should be allowed to respawn at their destination. In this I speak of automated travel modes such as ships and such that one hops on to travel through a specified path to a chosen destination. Player controlled mounts would be another concept altogether, since these do not have a specified path, and allows the player more freedom, these should also incur more risks, like that of being attacked by NPC’s or other players.

    Travel modes should also not be necessarily required to travel from one place to another, which the exception maybe of a player who tries to swim from one continent to the next…well…within reason. Travel modes should also not be prohibitively hard to get. One should not have to own a mount, but should be able to steal one (with potential negative consequences if one gets caught), borrow one, rent one, or even with some acquired skill, convince a wild creature to serve as a mount (temporarily or potentially permanently). Also the concept of a mount appearing out of thin air is a bit much, ie, players would be able to own multiple mounts, but these would actually require some place to live. And the mount with the player, if terrain disallows, would have to stay behind. The player at that point would either have to go back for the mount or send some form of message to have someone pick it up or maybe even have the mount trained to either go back home or find a place nearby to hide. the concept of a player being able to steal another players mount should exist but be extremely temporary, as in, the moment the player realizes his mount has been potentially stolen or if some specified amount of time has passed, the mount should automatically buck the thief and return to its owner ( maybe even allowed some minor form of short range teleportation to have it return to its owner as fast as possible, if not immediately. Now as for NPC mounts, well, since it would not necessarily affect a player these could be allowed to remain stolen for a while longer, but the longer one keeps the mount the stolen mount the harder it would become to avoid being caught for such theft.

    Well, there are other points I might like to pose my opinion on but I’ve already written a wall of text. Do forgive me for the wall of text, and for those that do read it, I welcome your opinions on the matters I’ve written about.

    • In most stories, long boring segments of travel are skipped. However, in a game we must play in perfect continuity in order to preserve our interactivity. The natural alternative for developers is to reduce the long, boring travel segments by offering quick-travel.

      The primary concern is that it reduces the “magic” in the world’s setting. But I don’t think the fact that it’s convenient is the problem.

      It’s the fact that you know exactly how long it will take to get from point A to point B. If the time/effort to get there is unknown (as well as what you’ll encounter along the way), then every step is an adventure. As soon as you know the precise cost and time needed, it becomes a task (much like driving to work).

      Journey on the PS3 is a great example. You know your objective (to reach the mountain in the distance), but you have no clue how long it will take or what you’ll find on your way there. The entire “Journey” is enjoyable, despite there being a clear destination.

      Similarly, MMOs might do well to use destinations that have a good deal of uncertainty or novelty about them. (If not in geographical terrain, then in the things that might happen to you on the way). And if you absolutely must resort to quick-travel, then at least make it a thoroughly enjoyable and interactive system of commuting about, rather than a simple portal.

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