Small Features I Want MMOs to Copy

For all the big features in an MMO, all the content, the skills, the special events, it is often the little things… or the lack of little things… that I remember most about a game.  Usually when I am playing another game that does not have this little feature or that, and those missing features become like grains of sand in my underwear… not a real problem, but an annoyance that just won’t go away.

So with that in mind, I made a list of little features… mostly little… that I want MMOs to start freely copying from each other.

The 20 Hour Day

Who should be the template: WoW

Who really needs it: EVE Online

A couple of years back Blizzard had a great idea.  They put 1 day lockouts on a 20 hour timer.  Anything that was “once per day” got a four hour break.  And I have cursed at every game that has full 24 hour lock outs ever since.

Why?

Inevitably I will end up doing something with a 24 hour lockout, like using a jump clone in EVE Online, at the end of my rather limited week night time window.  Unless I end up where I need to be the next night, that night will be a bust, since I won’t be able to jump again until the end of my time window.  So I generally just skip playing altogether.

The same goes for Need for Speed World and the gem hunt, a daily activity that went from once per calendar day to once per 24 hours.  The gem hunt is the one thing that was getting me to log into the game regularly, and playing regularly is the one thing that will get you to buy stuff from the cash shop.  But then I would play late one evening and end up skipping the next… and since prizes are based on how many gem hunts you’ve done in a row, my incentive to go back would suddenly go missing.

Sell All Trash Button

Who should be the template: Rift

Who really needs it: WoW

This is one of those features I didn’t know I needed until I had it.  For those who haven’t played Rift, there is a little button at the bottom of the vendor tab that allows to sell all your gray named drops, stuff that is clearly trash, in one fell swoop.

And once you have this button, not having it in another game feels like a huge burden.  This is especially the case in WoW, from which Rift has taken both the various levels of loot value and an apparent love of reusing icons.  Now that I am playing in Azeroth again, mousing over nearly everything in my always close to full bags just to find that one gray item which some daily quest goodie bag dropped in my inventory has become a painful chore.

WoW so clearly needs it that I am surprised it hasn’t made it into the product yet.

Yes, there are a few addons that do this automatically, but having tried a couple, they all seem to be flawed in some way or another.  Plus, I like pressing the button in Rift and seeing my bags cleared on command.  There is something very satisfying in that little action.

With other MMOs, the situation is not so clear.  EQ2 could use it as well, though gray items are not as prevalent (in my mind at least) as in Rift and WoW, and they occasionally have a use.  And LOTRO… well, the whole “sell to the vendor” system needs a rework in my opinion.  It is the most awkward system I have run into in a post-WoW game.  Plus, in LOTRO, most gray drops can now be turned in for daily faction quests, so you have to figure out which grays you can really part with first.

Area Loot

Who should be the template: Rift

Who really needs it: Every other MMO I play except EVE

Under most circumstances this Rift feature, which lets you loot all the corpse in a small area with a single click, is nice to have but not essential.  The loot area is pretty small, so you will likely have multiple clicks for any big battle, and the interface in Rift is on par with WoW in responsiveness, so looting is a simple click that always works.

And then you get the battle with that leaves you with a big pile of corpses to loot and you are trying to get that one corpse that is at the bottom of the pile with only a toenail sized hot spot to click on.  At that point you become a believer.  This happens in every game

Key Bindable Names Toggle

Who should be the template: LOTRO

Who really needs it: WoW, Rift

I really like to play with the floating names over the heads of players and NPCs off.  And I will go through and turn them off in most games if it is possible.  This is one of the many reasons I am so bad at PvP.  I am the guy running around the battleground who can’t pick out enemies across the field or behind cover due to a big red name floating over their head.

But some times you are in a crowd or are looking for an NPC and life would just be easier if you could turn on the floating names for just a minute to pick out who is who.

LOTRO does this for me, and they even have a key mapped to do it by default.

Granted, LOTROs choice of font and the way it scales as you move away makes turning off those damn names a necessity in any crowd situation, so it was probably included because of the MMOs I play, it most needed it.

Shared Bank Slots

Who should be the template: EQ2

Who really needs it: Rift, WoW

The shared bank slots in EverQuest II are one of the things that SOE got right on the first try in that game.  So much else has had to be reworked time and again, but all they have done with the shared bank slots since launch is add another row!

In fact, the whole slots and boxes approach in EQ2 is almost too good, since it turned me into a serious pack rat in game.

So in EQ2 I can pass huge quantities of things from character to character on the same account using the shared bank slots, while in Rift and WoW I am still mailing things from character to character, or using the guild bank.  The guild bank is fine if you have unlimited access, but in a larger guild I am going to guess that just won’t work out.

Easy Hot Bar Lock

Who should be the template: Rift

Who really needs it: LOTRO

This might be another “just me” feature, but I tend to be a clicker and with that comes the need to lock the hot bar buttons lest you find yourself accidentally swapping or deleting them mid-battle.  So my hot bars tend to be locked by default.

But then I get new skills or want to rearrange skills on the bar to optimize utility and in games like LOTRO or WoW, I have to dig into the settings and toggle the lock off, do my changes, go back to the setting, and then toggle them back on.

But Trion decided to put the lock toggle right there on the hot bar.  So when I want to swap things around it is a quick click and I am going.  Plus I always know what state the locking mechanism is in.

You will note that I only say that LOTRO really needs this. WoW gets around it to a certain extent by only locking the removal of hot bar buttons by clicking.  If you get a new skill you can swap that button in and even re-arrange things to a certain extent.

Oddly, the one MMO where I never feel this problem is EverQuest.  The EQ hot bar system, even the new and improved version, has a “click and hold” mechanism for moving buttons, so a quick click and accidental drag in combat won’t move things.

Simple Wardrobe Slots

Who should be the template: EQ2

Who really needs it: WoW

I really like wardrobe slots.  I can get along without them, but I have been known to refuse to wear some atrocious looking gear even with markedly better stats just based on looks.  So I much prefer to have them.

Does this make me look fat?

And in thinking about this, my first inclination was to go with the LOTRO model.  It is certainly the most sophisticated system I have used, what with shared wardrobes and multiple outfits and such.  But I never really liked the whole “wear a copy” concept.  You don’t put on the item, you copy the item to your wardrobe slot while the item itself remains in your inventory.  And then I sell the item, or just forget which item it is, try something new on, and cannot get back to the old look. (Damn tiny LOTRO icons.)

So I think the EQ2 system of just having another set of equipment slots that actually hold the equipment is probably the simplest design.

Now, again, somebody will point out that WoW does in fact have something along those lines… though I cannot recall the name of it at the moment… I only remember reading about it and thinking that it sounded like an overly complex gold sink

Route XP Elsewhere

Who should be the template: EQ2

Who really needs it: WoW, LOTRO, Rift

It seems like most MMOs are now getting the idea that we ought to be able to turn of XP.  Some methods are still more complicated then they ought to be (WoW), but at least we have the option to help us try to keep groups together in the same level range.

But then it becomes a case of one thing leading to another.  I actually do not like to waste my efforts doing thing while XP is turned off.  Yeah, that might just be me.  But there it is.

Which is why I like the alternate advancement system in EverQuest II.  You can route all your XP into something useful, so still gain the benefit of your actions, while sticking with you group in levels.

Of course, setting up an alternate advancement system is not a small feature.  I just wonder if they could not route that XP into something else. Dedicate a percentage to a faction of your choice maybe?

Anyway, those are the items that have been leaping to mind of late, no doubt a product of my being in a game swapping mood and putting in a bit of time with a variety of MMOs every week.

What other little things are there that would be good to copy across the board?

23 thoughts on “Small Features I Want MMOs to Copy

  1. Aerynne

    I agree with every one of your suggestions, but none more than Rift’s Sell-All-Trash and Area Loot options. I miss them every time I play another MMO.

    EQ2’s shared bank slots are great and sorely needed in WoW, though I did get a laugh out of one WoW player whose guild was called “Its all about the bank”. My boyfriend and I eventually resorted to starting our own guild, too, just for the bank.

    WoW’s cosmetic wardrobe is called Transmogrification and, like LotRO, it basically makes a copy of an item. So, you can maintain the illusion even if you are not carrying the desired item. Unfortunately, also as in LotRO, if you inadvertantly sell or destroy that item, you will maintain the illusion only so long as you wear the original piece of transmogrified armor. And it is a gold sink, as you mentioned.

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  2. Aerynne

    Oh, and one thing I would add to all games is EQ2’s mentoring system, particularly the chronomage. Being able to mentor to the level of your group is great – you can play with lower level friends and not handicap their xp gain – but other games have done similar things (City of Heroes, for example). But I really love the chronomage system where, for a small fee, I can temporarily lower my level even when soloing, so that I can experience lower level content I missed while still getting some (albeit reduced) xp or aa gain.

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  3. welshtroll

    A good post. There are some systems that work so well in MMO’s that I’m surprised when a new game launches without them.

    I feel that this approach was why Rift was so very popular at launch because it addressed many of the bugbears that players had with existing games. It felt good that developers understood that a fancy system may look great from a marketing point of view but ultimately gives players that are thinking of leaving more ammo.

    On the last point City of Heroes had a disable XP function, this has mostly become redundant with the way team levels now function.

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  4. Skarlarth

    My name is Skarlarth and I wholeheartedly endorse this post!

    TAGN 2012!

    Great ideas, if only we had the magic wand to make it all happen…

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  5. Darraxus

    A couple of thing is regards to WoW.

    Download Crap Away for vendoring gray items. It automatically vendors all of them immediately when you open the vendow window.

    AOE loot is thankfully coming in MoP. About time. SWTOR also has AOE loot already.

    To toggle name plates in WoW press V.

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  6. peacedogattack

    SWTOR needs easy hotbar locking desperately. Or did when I was playing regularly. I frequently, inadvertantly, dragged skills off the hot bars and didn’t realise it. To lock the bars, though, you had to go into options, a couple of screens in. And this prevented you from putting things into bars on the fly, like useable quest items. Which you needed to do because SWTOR was maddeningly inconsistent; sometimes you just ran up and used the the thing for the quest and your quest item activated. But occasionally you needed to manually activate a quest item. Rift was superb on this latter issue, incidentally.

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  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Darraxus – V (and shift-V) toggles on and off the name plates with health bars, which is not quite the same thing as being able to toggle on and off names as it works in LOTRO.

    I am biased against addons in general and would prefer the sell all gray as a built-in function so it won’t break with every major patch or suddenly become unsupported because the author doesn’t play WoW any more.

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  8. Tanek

    Very nice list of features. I had some of the same experiences where I did not know I needed something (like AoE looting) until I experienced it. :)

    Quick note on the locking of hot bars in LOTRO, though. You can keybind it. Granted, maybe not as convenient as having the button like in RIFT, but it isn’t bad.

    I don’t think there is a key bound by default like there is with names, so I always have mine using CTRL-L.

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  9. bhagpuss

    Very good list. I’d like nearly all of those in any MMO I play.

    EQ2 devs have already said they intend to add the “sell vendor loot” option at sme point. Oddly, EQ2 is one of the few MMOs where I mightn’t use it. There are some really lovely vendor loot items that I have banked just becasue they are so evocative or peculiar. The antique clock, for example, and the white rose. I like to sort my vendor loot to see what odd, amusing or delightful surprises have dropped in that I didn’t notice during battle.

    Also very nice to hear that someone else turns all the names off!

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  10. Signusmelko3@gmail.com

    So many of these things existed in pre WoW MMOs already. It’s really sad to see how far MMOs have fallen. WoW has been out for 7 years and it still has maybe half the features old MMOs used to have, and that half they do have is half assed.

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  11. Telwyn

    Great list. AoE loot and shared bank should be in all games, no excuses. I cannot believe WoW still will not have an account level bank in Mists – EQ2 and DDO/ LoTRO have had this feature for years!

    The shared bank is so useful that it is frankly painful to have to go back to mailing stuff.

    As was mentioned about Chronomancy for mentoring is needed in other games, especially those with fast leveling (Rift needs it badly). I think SWTOR needs this as well as it’s far too easy to outlevel friends.

    Looking at your list and my own thoughts on this it strikes me at just how feature-rich EQ2 is actually. By rights the game should be, on many but not all counts, a benchmark for MMO development.

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  12. Wlad

    Im a big fan of EQ2’s mentoring and chronomage system. Mentoring, which lowers a high level player is much better than sidekicking which raises a low level player. A mentored player is a boon to the group while a sidekicked player is a detriment.

    In fact, I wish SOE would just take all the features and content of EQ2, change nothing, and just rerelease it in an updated engine. It’d be the best MMO out there.

    Wlad

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  13. gwjanimej

    I actually like SWTOR’s trash loot sell button better; it does not require you to be at a vendor.

    As for cosmetic gear, even with the requirement to maintain the gear I prefer LOTRO’s system as you can maintain multiple looks and easily share them via the wardrobe.

    Lastly, mentoring/bootstrapping. I feel that FFXI does this one best as level adjustment has been around there alongside alternate advancement since the US launch. There were changes which added the ability to scale gear automatically as well, which made it practically perfect in my mind.

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  14. Reuben Helms

    DCUO has a nice feature for the simple wardrobe slots. Once you’ve equipped a particular style of clothing, you get to use it in place of any other item you may collect later on. Though in DCUO, you get to apply colours to that gear. Works well when you have a look to maintain as a hero or a villain. Probably doesn’t work too well with something like WoW, where they’re try to sell the art involved in a new raid set (or just that staff re-inked every which way from Sunday).

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  15. HarbingerZero

    SWTOR needs easy hotbar locking desperately.
    Um…its right there on the hotbar…been there since Beta at least.

    STO also has a 20 rather than 24 hour lock out. Really brilliant idea that.

    The most impressive thing about EQ2 is that ability to even wardrobe out weapon combos. To be a defensive tank (sword & board) while *looking* like you are dual wielding? Magnificant.

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  16. NoAstronomer

    “Sell All Trash Button”

    Here’s my suggestion : just get rid of vendor trash altogether. Vendor trash is one of the features that should be dropped by any company creating a new MMO. Though LOTRO did turn vendor trash into a interesting game mechanic.

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  17. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @NoAstro – That is certainly a valid suggestion. Vendor trash does seem to be enshrined as a feature every MMO must have.

    I remember EQ2 at launch when, in an attempt to control the economy, mobs dropped no currency at all. The only money from a kill was vendor trash. Oh, and the vendor close by in the field, they paid less for that trash than the vendor back in your home town. Now what sort of behavior was SOE trying to groom with that?

    Of course, as with any aspect of games, I am sure that vendor trash will be somebody’s favorite feature. That is the rule. Anything game mechanic, no matter how bad, is somebody’s favorite part of a game.

    I like the way it used to work in Toril MUD and EQ where nothing was specifically gray and clearly trash and things you sold to a vendor then showed up on the list of things they had up for sale. If you needed some odd item for a quest, you might find it at a vendor.

    Or there is EVE Online, where there is no vendor. Anything you want to sell has to be sold to another player. Odd how many of my suggestions do not really apply to EVE.

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  18. Vidyala

    I agree, I wish the junk thing was part of WoW’s base UI! The addon I use is called “SellJunk,” and it has the option of either a button so you can click it and see all your junk go away, or it can auto-sell if you prefer. I’ve never had any trouble with the addon, I’d recommend it! I hope it’s something they will add in, though.

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  19. baue8673

    Just happened to read this. But if it improves your lotro experience, Lotro does have a hotbar lock that is easily accesible. I think its the comma key. Locks and unlocks the hotbars with an easy key press. Use it all the time, and I don’t think I had to map it, though I might at some point in the last 5 years.

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