Asian MMORPGs are a constant grind, but are western MMORPGs any better?
First, let me tell you about how different a MMORPG can be. Imagine a game where you are thrust into a world, but unable to continue without the guidance and mentorship or other players. Imagine a game with laws created by the players themselves, who in order to write said laws have to carry an office, which in turn, they have to gain the votes of other players in order to achieve. Imagine a game where you can attend church masses, university lectures, theatric performances and sports games... and they're all conducted by the players themselves, supported by the developers, and rewarded with experience! This game exists, and it is called Dark Ages by Nexon, and it's bloody well near 10 years old!
(An interesting side note for you RP fans, Dark Ages has an in-game RP explanation and word for EVERYTHING, including being afk, logging off and experiencing lag! It even censors the word "lol". Too bad that it's almost every player's goal to fuck around and break every rule they set... sigh...)
Can anyone but me remember when Ultima Online (before its release) promised fully dynamic quests? A quest eco system even! I think the example given was a deer herd moving into dragon territory, causing the dragon to eat through them and continue onto a farmer's sheep, who then put out a quest to have it slain.
What the hell happened?
Instead, we have:
* Mining. Lumps of rocks which randomly appear. Why not a skill which lets you prospect a large area to dig in, perhaps set up semi-permanent shafts, perhaps even create small mines, perhaps dig too deep and have something nasty appear. Or just wash/pan for gold by rivers like in reality.
* Farming. Again, setting up semi-permanent fields. Or perhaps rent small lots in backyards in the cities and villages to grow stuff in. Imagine having pumpkin growing contests in the game!
* Pets. Magically bring forth and then have pets disappear? If you can do something that powerful, how come you don't have other great powers? And what does the pet think about being in limbo all the time? Come on, there must be a better system.
* Crafting. This, in general, is so boring without proper merchant skills. Lots of Asian MMORPGs let you set up your own shops. Why can't we see that in a western game as well? (No racial jokes, please...)
* Rare items. Some items are rare, but it's really just a matter of time you are willing to spend. How many MMORPGs have items which are truly unique, and not limitless? And how many balance this in a good and interesting fashion?
* Status quo. No matter what you do in the game, everything remains the same. Everyone is a hero and nobody is a hero. What if you could conquer a city with your guild? Dark Age of Camelot has some of this, but locks it neatly away in confined areas. Then again, was it Shadow Bane which had everything dynamic, and look what happened to that one...
* Monster spawning. How do you logically explain a monster which simply pops into view? And why do they have to pop at exactly the same bloody spot at all times? Why can't they wander into view, and wander around? At least emerge from behind something, so as to try to make an effort.
* Dumb monsters. Short sighted, selfish bloody statues. Why can't we have monsters that hunt? Enemies that actually help each other. I guess EQ and LOTRO(?) tries to do something about this by letting you play a monster?
* Combat. Oh, the joy of auto-combat. Touch one button and watch paint dry (but with lovely particle effects). Tabula Rasa and Dofus tries to do something about this, but does anyone have any other ideas?
Anyway, I'm not on my home computer for the rest of the week, but on it, I have a file with more ideas for MMORPG games. In the meantime, why don't you fill in with your suggestions and ideas? Perhaps we can get a nice discussion going! Oh, and I know some custom UO shards have many cool features, like renting rooms/shops and such, and even permanent deaths, which really makes you feel like someone in the world.