I play a lot of video games. Some might even say too many (haters). A lot of these games are MMOs. I’ve been surprised lately with how many titles have come out lacking one or more of what I would consider mandatory features, so I’ve decided to provide a list; a cheat-sheet, if you will, for prospective MMO developers. I’m not going to tell you what I want in a game, because there are many, many different views on that topic and I’m not quite foolish enough to think my opinion is the “right” one. However, excluding obvious things like “not buggy as all hell”, “at least trying to be balanced”, and “a map”, what follows is a list of things that you should probably have in your game before it launches:
- A jump key. Seriously, we got that shit down decades ago. I don’t even understand why I have to include this. Maybe I should list “a map”.
- The ability to swim. This is a bit more complex, but honestly, at this point there’s no excuse for not giving players the ability to cross bodies of water in some fashion. Even if they have to just swim on the surface.
- AoE looting. Do you enjoy wasting your players’ time? No? Do your programmers have five minutes? Yes? Excellent, we’re all done here.
- Multispeccing. Obviously excluding games without specs, but for those that have them, this is a must.
- LFG and Battleground queues. The bread and butter of PvE and PvP respectively, launching a game without these at this point is just dickish.
- Quest tracking. Because nothing says “fun” like searching for hours to find one guy.
- A fully customizable UI with at least partial addon support. Because hitting the “average” for a UI just means everyone is going to be slightly dissatisfied. Also data collection is a thing good players like to be able to do.
- Endgame. For PvE, this means a large, fully functional raid. PvP means some sort of reward/ranking system for battlegrounds. This is the one that most developers fail to do, and is the most heinously irresponsible to lack at this point. Most of us don’t enjoy leveling endless alts, guys.
- Modifier keys. Another one I didn’t think I would need to include, but ArenaNet sure showed me. If I can’t Shift+2 an ability I either need fewer abilities, or giant 20-fingered hands.
- Shared/importable UI settings. Because making a player recreate their UI every time they roll a new character is just asinine.
- Appearance customization. Both at character creation (hint: sliders are no longer optional, as hardware has improved since 1998), and in game. FiOS and quad core processors aren’t going anywhere, and your game should visually reflect that fact.
So there you have it. Things that I, as a hypothetical MMO publisher would be embarrassed to launch my game without. Yet someone’s done each and every one of these in a modern MMO. How about you, dear reader? What do you demand of your games?