I’ve been thinking a lot about player convenience in MMORPGs lately. My recent adventures in games like Guild Wars 2, Revelation Online and Ragnarok Journey has showed me many things. Things that will spark interesting discussions no doubt.
When it comes to convenience and player power in MMOs, I’m all for it. I think plenty of systems and mechanics in past MMOs are dated, to the point of making them seem grindy, repetitive or just a hassle to deal with. It’s a broad generalization I realize, so lets narrow down and explore categories instead.
Firstly, let’s talk about convenience in the core gameplay. There seems to be a startling trend of recent MMO’s including an “auto-play” feature. Games like Twin Saga, Ragnarok Journey and now Revelation Online are prime suspects. Players have the option to hit the auto-pilot button and watch as their characters automatically move towards objectives. It’s crazy, and having been playing Western MMOs for the majority of my gaming life, this comes as a culture shock.
I have always been of the mindset that players being in total control of everything in-game was the norm. However, having used the feature extensively, I’m kind of liking it. I’ll let the game do the mundane things for me like travel, and only take the wheel during combat. In a way, it’s convenient, with a risk of encouraging half-assed playing. In the long term, we don’t know how that’ll affect players. Will more players demand the feature in the name of player convenience?
Simplifying Systems & Mechanics
Now let’s dive into some systems, such as the auction house feature. Guild Wars 2 has spoiled me – I strongly believe that GW2’s implementation of an auction house is the best in any MMORPG to-date. It’s simple and idiot proof. It’s just too convenient, to the point I find myself questioning how on earth MMORPGs succeeding it in recent times did not try and replicate it.
Accessing the auction house can be done from anywhere in the game. And buying, selling and looking items is a breeze thanks to it’s smart filtering system. Having just come to Guild Wars 2 from The Elder Scrolls Online, the action house in GW2 is a god send. No more hassle playing with sliders and categories. No more ranting about why there isn’t a search by name feature.
In conclusion, player convenience I feel, is all about what the game stands for and how much the game wants to help players achieve their goals quickly. Some systems that are known for being a clunky mess, like auction houses and crafting should be made more convenient. So too should management systems, such as combining currencies or making this account shared instead of character only. Convenience in these departments will generally make the player base happier and more invested.
On the other hand, totally dumbing down gameplay through auto play features is still a concept that many of us are trying to grasp. Will this make the game too easy? And what does it say about the MMO if it allows players the option to not care enough about the journey? I want your thoughts in the comments below.