After publishing I realized I focused mostly on core and social systems that would be needed in a Next Generation MMO.
While I would say that these 3 features are not necessarily going to make a game a Next Gen MMO they definitely can make or break ones experience with a game. So in this way they are very important and if not really fleshed out for release they should be near the top of the list for the first few bug and content patches.
Gear – Modifiable all the way!
This does not mean that all gear in the game needs to be modifiable in some way. There just needs to be modular gear for most if not all levels. This would allow a player to get a piece of gear for one item slot and update it as they level and not having to replace it every couple of levels for better stats.
3 games at the moment come to mind with something like this.
The most limited one is WoW, with jewel crafting sockets. Some gear like this starts to become available once you hit level 60+ content since jewel crafting was first introduced with The Burning Crusade expansion that ran levels 60-70.
The second most limited is EVE-Online, actually that is how the entire games plays. You either upgrade ships which are new complete sets of gear so to speak and then mod it out with different modules. The modules each confer some sort of bonus which is then modified by the character’s trained skill and then there can also be a ship based bonus to 1 or more parameters. With the exception of Strategic Cruisers there is no way to really customize your look or design in the game. Then again that does not really matter since the point of the game usually seems to be who can kill who first.
Now there is ToR and it has at this time the best system for this that I have seen yet. I really like just getting “orange” gear while leveling for my characters and their companions so I don’t have to do the hunt for the next piece of gear every other level to keep my stats near the content difficulty curve.
As a bonus you don’t look like a clown most of the time.
Crafting – Let me play the game not stand around waving my hands.
This topic and the next one Market Systems are some of the topics that I am the most vocal about in almost all games I play. I like to make things. I always have and always will even if the system is a major pain in the ass I will at least kick the tires on the system before deciding whether it is an activity I actually want to to do in the game or ignore. Honestly the games with the better crafting systems end up being the games I play more often. I know I am not a typical hardcore MMO gamer in this facet but it is definitely a facet of the MMO universe that Casual players end up participating in more. Usually because this is one of the few systems they can actually get some sort of progression out of. Well in most games except WoW.
I am completely disgusted with the crafting system in WoW and have been for a while now actually. I have new hopes each patch/expansion and they are quickly crushed under the piss poor design of what materials are required and how to acquire them. I am looking at Chaos Orbs and Dream Cloth at the moment, Titansteel while annoying at least was available. This point of contention feeds into the next topic but as it relates to crafting. All crafting materials need to be BoE or tradable/marketable.
Additionally Crafting materials should not usually be acquired through raiding, and if they are available in raids then all levels of raiding should have access to them no matter what iLevel the pattern is. I am specifically referring to LFR for this part. I have been annoyed by the raid drop only pattern and crafting material since Burning Crusade when I really started to get into the nuts and bolts of MMOs. I started playing WoW about 8 months before tBC launched and started playing MMOs in general a few months before that with EVE-Online.
Now EVE-Online’s crafting and market system are at least an order of magnitude if not more complicated than WoW’s Crafting system. However there is one majorly important difference between them. In even I set up one or more production queues limited by a few character skills and I set the order and forget about it until I get a notification that my production run is done. This is done in “real time” so simple stuff takes seconds – minutes and capital ships take Days-Weeks to complete one run. However in the mean time you can be playing the game while your queue is processed. I like this set and forget style many times more than the EQ, WoW, LotRO, Rift, every other EQ/WoW clone in existence style of stand around have the character wave their hands and boom 10-120 seconds later Item is done.
ToR has a system in the middle between WoW and EVE. Your companions/crew does all of your crafting and gathering for you so once you get more than one companion you can always have them working in the background while your character and your OT/OH/DPS companion is out helping you. This system more than almost any other thing in ToR is what has kept me playing it to the exclusion of almost all other games at the moment.
In this area I think the initial crafting system that ToR uses is similar to what should be the starting point for a crafting system in the next generation of MMOs. It allows you to gather materials actively in the game environment or passively by sending dormant crew members out to gather for a predetermined amount of in-game currency. The crafting process is passive in the background so you can continue to play with out “hearthing” back to town to stand in front of a forge or what ever special crafting place you need.
Market Systems – They are a game unto themselves make the user interface reflect that.
I will be brief and blunt about this. Every MMO I have played with the exception of 1 has a really shitty in game market system with the default interface. The only reason Warcraft’s AH is usable is by using one of 2 add ons, Auctioneer or Auctionator. I have not played Rift since add ons were added to the game so can’t speak of any auction based add ons there.
I like how Auctionator shows listings of the same price, the ultimate auction interface would be a mix of the 2 add ons. The only default Market interface that I like that is not a user created addon is the market interface for EVE-Online. CCP has made many mistakes IMO on many topics, most to support a philosophy of game play that I do not really enjoy. It is one of the reason that I am only going to support my game time by buying PLEX in their market to burn through the 3-4B isk I still have in game.
For the starting place on the market system for a next-gen MMO it will need to have features similar to either EVE’s set up or one of the 2 auction add ons for WoW. Other market/resource systems really will need an entire post of their own to do the topic justice.
I wanted to get this follow up to my earlier post so I could clear my plate so to speak before moving on to some other topics and these topics in greater detail.