Quests are Killing Co-op

I saw a quote recently that drove me into a philosophical frenzy.

the quest driven MMO faction is slowly killing the co-op MMO faction

Here’s the context, though it’s meant entirely as it sounds.

Quests are killing co-op play. Wow, that’s a thinker. I’m more prone to believe that some popular MMOs opted to do what would make them more money by allowing classes that were previously limited to only playing in groups to be able to play alone. Then, those MMOs opened their doors to a larger market by making their game appeal to people who wanted a single-player experience with social tools like chat and buddy list built in.

Then every other game under the sun took notice of their ridiculously huge numbers (because big numbers means success, right?) and started stealing ideas from it. “Let’s put the MMO tag on our game even though it’s lobby+instance based and you can only have 5 people in an instance at once.” “Let’s make all the mobs weak so players feel really powerful and want to keep playing because they ROCK!” “Let’s exclude PvP from the game entirely since it’s such a small portion of Successful Game X.”

That’s how it works with movies, isn’t it? One zombie movie spawns and ten more follow to capitalize on the craze? One decent time-travel movie reports record breaking box office sales and soon every theater has ten more sub-par time-travel movies? Video games are just like any other media outlet: capitalizing on what works. So don’t blame the game: blame the customers who keep it going.

I’m Not Playing Vanilla WoW Right Now, But If I Did...

  • Not enough rage. Not enough rage. Not enough rage. Not enough rage. Not enough rage.
  • Not enough rage. Not enough rage. Not enough rage. Not enough rage. Not enough rage.
  • Woo, 1 silver! I’m rich! Oh, looks like I have a new skill to train. Let me just… hm, down to 5 copper. Well, it’s 5 copper farther than when I started!
  • Questgivers don’t show up on the minimap, only quest hand-ins.
  • How do I turn on autoloot? Or even shift-to-autoloot?
  • The rare warrior set has spirit on it, but not a drop of defense, dodge, or parry.
  • Spells can’t miss, but they sure do get resisted often.
  • Aggroed three grell in a cave and died. Not getting out of this one without another two deaths, at minimum.
  • No vendor prices in tooltips.
  • No clock up by the minimap!
  • Battle Shout COSTS rage!
  • Your dagger skill has increased to 2.
  • Your dagger skill has increased to 3.
  • Your dagger skill has increased to 4.
  • Zero quest tracking whatsoever.
  • Your dagger skill has increased to 5.
  • No class name coloring in /who
  • As a warrior, I don’t start with two handed sword proficiency… and it can only be learned from one major city, which is not Darnassus.
  • Daily quests don’t exist.
  • No netherdrake mount.
  • No flying mounts of any kind.
  • Where’s the ban’ethil barrow den? Ah, forget it, this game isn’t even that great and I’ve already stayed up until 3am playing it!

My Hero

I just found my new favorite person. Mr. (Ms.?) Helistar, whom posted the following snip on another blog.

“I play it "the DK way" (when I first leveled my DK, I chose the talents with the most impressive names and put on my bar the attacks with the biggest numbers, screw anything else. It worked perfectly....).”

It’s brilliant!  I’m not even being sarcastic, despite I do so love to be. The idea of ‘biggest numbers wins’ is not new, but in this day and age of video games, biggest numbers are not intuitively the best anymore. You have to do complicated theorycrafting math to figure out things like cooldowns and mana use over a period of time. I propose a system where Sir Helistar would be the best: a game world where choices are intuitive and straightforward.

I can only hope there are enough developers to make intuitiveness a trend.

What’s Wrong With These Games?

A list of things I found wrong with some of the games I’ve tried.

LotRO – The entire interface feels laggy. It doesn’t matter if they intended it that way or not – when I push a button to use an ability, I expect some sort of instant acceptance – an error message or the ability to go off. Instead, it seems like my character will finish their current attack animation, THEN use the ability. There’s also a number of general ‘feel bad’ features – like how your characters slide when you let go of the movement keys, looking like they’re skidding to a stop. You also can’t strafe on a horse. Debuffs also aren’t readily readable, despite they’re very important! The interface doesn’t respond well (particularly the unit frames) to mouse clicks, making healing a PITA. Also, mounting a horse takes an additional 1/2 second in addition to the cast time. I though the cast time represented the time it would take to get onto a horse, not the time it takes to go, “Wait, where’s my horse? OH YEAH ITS INVISIBLE DUH".”

Atlantica Online – The chat sound plays even when a player on ignore says something. The in-combat ability display doesn’t stay minimized between log-ins. The quest-tracker arrow automatically turns on when you use auto-run (WHY!? The point of autorun is that you DON’T CARE where the quest is!) Auto-run in general is a bad idea. If there are parts of the game the player should skip, then let them skip it altogether. Holding down the left and right mouse buttons to move around sometimes locks your characters direction. The quest system… why? Just why? The ‘world’ doesn’t seem to matter – there probably shouldn’t even be one. There’s not a forum for people to congregate to form groups, so it takes a while before you can legitimately group with strangers and start making friends. The random “player has purchased an epic item” spam is way annoying. Some of the time-sensitive popups don’t fade automatically. It’s really difficult to tell what some of the debuffs afflicting you are. Stupid logon method (for ANY nexon game!) I also can’t figure out how to rebind zoom in/zoom out, or even if there is a choice, since I don’t have a scroll wheel.

Dofus/Wakfu – Getting into and out of combat takes a while. Battles should be bigger but less frequent. The questing system is also somewhat silly. Turns could be shorter, and characters in the fight could respond quicker. Keybindings definitely could use an overhaul to help speed things up.

Grand Fantasia – The camera controls are bad. The refresh rate setting keeps falling to 30 for no reason. Kill –> Loot game play is uninspiring. The pet system is very nice but hits a roadblock too quickly. Launching the game from the patcher crashes on my Windows 7 PC, so I have to run the patcher, exit it, and then run the actual game exe.

4Story – When you try to run forward with a loot window open, your character will run towards the right, because when they kneel down to loot the corpse, they face right. Jarring, but adaptable. Dead targets aren’t automatically dropped from your target frame. As such, live targets aren’t automatically picked up when you try to cast a spell while targeting a dead enemy.

Grand Chase – Controls respond verrrry slowly, making combos difficult to activate. Characters also move way slow, so collecting the coin drops is a pain.

Lunia – I can’t figure out what was wrong with this. I just got stuck early. Gameplay is simple but so is the tutorial, so you get lost early if you don’t read the quest. Which I don’t, because readable quests are stupid. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the game at all.

Microvolts – This game is great and could be the engine for an actual shooter if it had an AI enemy for PvE content. It’s just that I have 200ms latency (ONLY in microvolts, <100 in other games) so when I think I’m hidden behind a wall I’m actually already dead.