By Shannon Doyle (Leliah), OnRPG Journalist
We haven’t had a good list on OnRPG in a while, a severe oversight in my eyes. So I decided to change that. I got to thinking, what would make for an interesting read? I didn’t want to go with something simple like the top 10 villains in MMOs, though I may do that in the future. This time around I wanted to do something really thought provoking. So it got me thinking about things that have been going on with me recently. I’ve been trying a lot of new games, a lot of new games have been coming out, and there are a lot of older games I’m finally getting around to trying. As I tried out each game I slowly started finding myself missing features other MMOs had. Some of them it took me a while to miss, some of them in the list I think will shock people.
The first time I ever experienced /walk was in City of Heroes when it came out in 2009. And in just 4 short years it has become somewhat of a necessity for me. Most MMOs I’ve been in these days have the walk function, except TERA. Not having the ability to walk was so crippling to me as a role player that I actually stopped playing. I just couldn’t do it. And what a huge oversight it is not having it! Who doesn’t want to see a Castanic shake her hips as she walks? I’m a woman and I want to see that!
This is another one of those that happens a lot going from newer MMOs to older ones. Or maybe I’m just unlucky. My first experience with this was making the transition back and forth between Rift and City of Heroes. In Rift, I’d loot religiously. Then I’d go back to City of Heroes and suddenly I’m stopping at every corpse trying to get my sweet loot and getting annoyed when I get nothing until I remember there is no looting in this game. Amazingly though I never had the problem going the other way around.
Yeah, you read that right. I actually miss PUGs. I actually can’t think of any game where they’re completely gone, but Guild Wars 2 comes pretty close. The only time you have to team up with people is for dungeons. And because of the way the rest of the game works, added with how difficult dungeons can be, no one talks! You might as well be playing by yourself. Once more it comes back again to City of Heroes. What better way to meet new people than to go up against evil (or do evil) with them? I made so many friends through PUGs. Now sure, there is always going to be an asshat, they come with dealing with people. But I miss those days of sewer runs all the way to Kings Row with random lowbies all looking for quick levels, the days where if you were really lucky you actually could find a group of 8 roleplayers on a PUG together. Oh those were the days.
6. No Quest Logs
Most MMOs have that list, the list of quests for you to do. Sometimes you have to sift through 30 quests just to find the one you want. The rare few that don’t though? Such a relief. Is it because they’re less complex games? Nah. And they aren’t limited to old ones either. Guild Wars 2 is a perfect example of that. Sure, on the side of the screen there is a tracker for your personal story and world wide things going on. But its more of a reminder of your options than a to do list. And when you’re going between games that have them and games that don’t you eventually find yourself longing for a game that gave you the freedom that came with the lack of quest logs.
5. Complex Chat Systems
I’m talking about what basically boils down to chatrooms in game and the ability to talk to friends playing on other servers. Every game I’ve ever played had a different chat system. And every time I find myself wishing that the game I was in had a certain chat ability from another game I’d played before. And once again, I hold City of Heroes as the shining example. In Rift’s early days there were plenty of level specific chats and player made channels, but you couldn’t talk to anyone who happened to be on another server. Thankfully they’ve since fixed this and Rift’s chat system is at the moment the best out there, though I do give props to The Secret World’s as well. It wasn’t until I started playing Guild Wars 2 heavily that I really got to missing those really good chat systems. Sure, I can send private messages to anyone. And the zone wide chat is quite active in Queensdale and Wayfarer’s Foothills on Piken Square. Plus of course the ability to chat with your friends in your guilds. But what it lacks is the ability for the player to make channels. I can’t just log in like I would with City of Heroes and play City of Chat. And this takes away from the game in a small way. Or perhaps it is the basis of something even bigger which I’ll talk about further in.
4. Casting While Moving
This one seems to come up a lot when you move from a newer MMO back to an older one. The ability to use your abilities while moving. This is especially an issue for Mages or any other spell casting class. You’re able to run all over the place in one game, flinging magic and fireballs at the enemy. Then you go to another where you get stuck in an animation or worse, if you make the mistake of moving mid cast and interrupt it. Nothing is more annoying than those moments, especially when they end in your death.
Fantasy and flying just don’t seem to go together very often. And no one can say that the MMO industry isn’t filled with fantasy MMOs. So I think it is safe to say MMOs with flying in them are somewhat rare. For this I’m excluding any space based games like EVE or Star Trek because that is just a whole different thing all together. And I’m not talking about flying mounts either. I mean the ability for you, the player to leap into the air and fly. Be it through jet pack, wings, or the ability to give gravity the finger. It all goes back to City of Heroes for me again. I loved to fly. It may have been slower than all the other travel powers but it gave you such freedom. It opened up the world, made it feel like there really was something more above your head. There are games out there that have fly: Champions Online, DCUO, and Aion just to name a few. But it isn’t until you spend time in a game where you’re stuck on the ground that you really start to appreciate and long for the ability to go into the sky.
2. Instantaneous Travel
This one might sound a bit lazy, and it absolutely is. And amusingly you will actually hear me be the first one to complain about such abilities when I come across them in a game. Instantaneous travel. I’m talking about teleporting. Be it on a small, personal scale across a zone or huge world crossing leaps. Guild Wars 2 is the shining example this time around. Between Waypoints and Asura Gates you don’t really ever have to travel more than a minute or two to get somewhere. So what happens when you go to a game that doesn’t have any teleportation? Suddenly the first thing you want to do is go to a quest on the other side of the world. And your only option is your own two legs. Thankfully most games these days have some way of making travel shorter. Though you’ll still hear me complain about it.
Several times now I’ve talked about things I would talk about later on in the article. Well here it is. The sense of community. The lack of PUGs, the chat systems that don’t allow for making more personalized channels and talking to friends in other servers, instantaneous travel itself…all of this combined plus many other things leads to a lack of community. I log into Piken Square on GW2 nearly every day. And except for a small group of friends no one knows who I am. The same is true the other way around. I’ll see a few familiar names, but no one I’d call a friend. In most MMOs these days there is less of a feeling of a community and more a bunch of individuals playing in the same place. That sense of community is lost in newer MMOs. Everquest, a 14 year old MMO is still going strong during an era when some MMOs don’t even make it a year. Why? The community is strong and keeps people coming back for more. City of Heroes showed how amazing a community it had when the closure was announced and a campaign was started to fight that fate. It was then the community came together and showed how much of a family they really were. A community so strong that even now, months after the closure, the fight goes on.
So there we have it. 9 things you don’t miss until they’re gone. Or 9 things every MMO should have if you like. I didn’t mean for it to turn into a nostalgia for City of Heroes article but it ended up being a bit of one anyway. A special thanks to a few folks on G+ who helped me out with this list, you know who you are and you’re awesome. Do you disagree with my 9? What would be in yours?