Daily Archives: April 13, 2012

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?