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Mar012017

Something Different! The Top Five Changes We Would Make to MMO Games

By Jeff Francis
Top five mmo changes we want

There's no real debate in that most mmo features have become codified over the last decade. A player can easily leap from one online rpg to another without any real difficulty as most systems and features found in online games are very similar. This is a marked difference from when online games first burst into being, as each one tried to create their own virtual world from scratch in a unique way. While online games are very enjoyable to play today, there are some mmo features that we would love to change. It's time to consider something different as we examine the top five mmo changes we would make.

The first of our top five mmo changes we would make is to really push buy-to-play as a revenue model. The last six to eight years has seen the rise and dominance of free-to-play mmo games, but the b2p model has been making some noise recently, such as with titles like Overwatch. The reason why we want to see more b2p, and less f2p, is twofold. First, it cuts down on the troll factor as online trolls don't like having to spend money to harass people. Free-to-play games are a troll's paradise as they can come back as often as they want after having an account banned as it costs them nothing. A buy-to-pay barrier will deter a lot of the trolls for wreaking havoc in a game, especially as they wouldn't want to drop another $40 or so to buy another copy in order to start harassing within the game again after being banned. The other reason why we want b2p as one of the mmo features we want pushed is that it provides an immediate revenue stream for the game company itself. We want game developers to make money as it means that they'll work on creating more quality product for us to consume.

Another of the top five mmo changes we want to see is the return of non-combat classes. In virtually every online game, the only way to advance a character is through combat. This vastly limits the scope of what an online character can actually do within a game. By comparison, characters in a pen-and-paper rpg can advance via skill checks, social interaction, and completing adventures (which may not involve combat at all, such as convincing a city's ruler to distribute food to his starving subjects via the use of diplomacy). It would be great to see players advance solely through crafting, entertainment skills, exploring, diplomacy, or profits gained by being a merchant. There is a million things that a person can do in the real world to get ahead in some manner, but in most online games, it's just through the swinging of a sword or the casting of a spell. Why not make the inclusion of non-combat classes one of the key mmo features in most games? This is one reason why many players are looking forward to Crowfall as some players can act as craftsmen that sell their highly desired wares while other players can focus on resource gathering or conquest.

The third of our top five mmo changes we would make to today's games is to bring back live events. There was once a time where it was pretty common for developers to instigate a live event within an mmorpg and actually be an active part of it, such as controlling the bad guys who were rampaging. As game populations got bigger, the number of live events got smaller and smaller. We would love to see the game's staff be more active in participating in live events to really shake up the in-game world. Live events are both spontaneous and are very interactive as they can change, depending upon the player reactions and the developer responses. We do understand that it can be somewhat expensive to have live events as one of the key mmo features due to pulling developers away from their normal duties, but an mmo could offer a free subscription or cash shop currency for recruited players to take on that mantle.

Next on our list of the top five mmo changes we would make is having unbalanced classes. This particular topic dovetails in with the non-combat classes cited above. The joy of having unique and individual classes for players has been stripped away due to an all-consuming desire for class balance. This is an utterly absurd concept. Why would a merchant character be as potent on the PvP battlefield as a seasoned warrior or skilled assassin? Again, the desire for balanced classes is one of the main mmo features that leads to a boring conformity in that it makes the player interact with the game's world in a limited way. If someone wants to have a character that's strictly a dancer or diplomat, then why not let them? A highly skilled inventor can create some nifty items in the way that an experienced Army Ranger cannot, and the vice-versa of that situation is that an Army Ranger can blow his enemies away with his sniper skills of which the inventor lacks.

The last of the top five mmo changes we want to see implemented is the ritual humiliation of online trolls. It's one thing to ban them from the game, but I would love to see the removal of a troll done in an official capacity in-game. What honest gamer wouldn't love to see a weekly gathering in a game's central hub where the characters of banned players are publicly announced, followed by their characters being fireballed after having their precious gear stripped away? A developer for Guild Wars 2 made a lot of headlines when he stripped the character of a cheater down to nothing and then had the character jump to their doom. Some players thought that this was over the top, but we got a kick out of it. Publicly shaming trolls is one of the mmo features we want implemented in that it shows that the game is serious about combating those vermin.

Overall, we think that these top five mmo changes would make mmorpg games more immersive and enjoyable. These suggested mmo features expand how players can interact with the game and each other, as well as making online games less cookie-cutter in nature. Do you agree with our list of mmo changes or would you prefer to see different mmo features implemented? Let us know in the comments below.

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