The Ancient Gaming Noob asks what the little things are in your games or MMO’s that perhaps give you more enjoyment or contentment than they otherwise would. A great topic! And I felt my response would take up more than my fair share of his comments box. This is not unusual, since that is actually, how I ended up with this blog in the first place, a whopping three years ago this week, if I remember right.
Rather than take it game by game, I’m just going to pick a handful of my favorites from over the years and lift them up. I’m also going to follow a sub-rule from the comments – these can not be measures taken to make something stink less or cover over a mistake. They need to be “positive” in nature.
A Sweet Mini Game with Main Game Perks.
Ok this may be a little outside the box, but bear with me. GoG.com had a sale last week on Might and Magic games, so I had to pick up 7 & 8, the only two from there collection I didn’t own yet (while I still have all my originals, its worth a few bucks to have them tweak and set the games). Within M&M 7 was an excellent little mini game called “Arcomage.” It was a little jab at Magic: The Gathering, but it was actually a great little game, so good I sometimes booted up the game *just* to play the mini game! And there is good evidence I wasn’t the only one. You could play a tourney in each tavern, and were able to win gold from your victories (and even a title as well I believe, for becoming champion. I know this isn’t an MMO, but it was too good to pass up. The mini game was fun, well-integrated, and made the RPG world more immersive.
WAR’s Ability Buffs.
One of the first things that attracted me to the Magician back in EQ and EQOA was its ability to “summon” things for the rest of the party. Weapons, armor, food, drinks, first aid items, etc. Of course that proved impractical and most of the time those skills were relegated to secondary RP duty, having no real impact on the game. WAR tweaked the paradigm a bit, and found something new and cool. Two of the healing classes Zealot and Rune Priest, could cast buffs on other players. However, rather than adding a certain amount of HP or something, they gave the players a new ability to use! Boy was that fun, and brought me back to days of begging for buffs, rather than just expecting them in passing, or, even worse, moving the buffing role into an integrated form in each class (ie, a tank with a self-buff to HP, or a mage with a self-buff to mana).
Everquest II Takes Appearance Slots to a New Level.
At some point, someone on the forums asked why they couldnt put a two handed weapon in the appearence slot if they were using a one handed weapon, or vice versa. And the developers said the words that are golden in the ear of any player: “Hmm…that’s a great question. Why not indeed?” And behold, appearence slots were made wide open. My Brigand signature wield in the game is a dagger and a whip. Or at least, it looks like he does. But that stats come from a rather oddly matched pair of quest reward items. Sadly, the MMO genre seems to be going the other direction, locking down variety and customization. I have no idea why, but my guess I would hazard would be kowtowing to the hardcore PvP enthusiasts, who for some reason think that not being able to visually identify your opponent would be “cheating” or “unfair” in some form.
Rift is one of those games that will just flat out spoil you. From the ability to constantly rearrange you abilities and skills, to the ease of finding groups and things to do, it plays like a luxury spa with room service. But perhaps the best move of the lot is the introduction of AOE looting. Less time on something not fun so that you can spend more time on something fun. Designers take note!
Writing Your Own History.
I’m not a huge fan of LotRO, but one of the things I enjoyed almost from the get go was the ability to spend lots of time writing a backstory that other players could read and thus, interact with. Star Trek Online, faults aside, does the same thing, giving you rich opportunities to RP in the game by giving you access to mechanics that have no purpose *other* than helping you RP. For games whose roots lie in that realm, it seems odd that others have not picked up that torch and carried it even further.
Fatalities and Ultra Criticals.
Age of Conan – lots can be held against it. But I think a lot of players find some small forgiveness or grudging admiration in their hearts the first time they inflict a fatality on someone in melee. For me this harkens back to the golden days of RPG’s and hearing a special sound effect and seeing the words “Excellent move!” Appear on the screen. As a tangent to this, I also love Vanguard’s iterative critical system. Basically, whenver you get a crit, the game “rolls again” and sees if you crit again. The damage gets exponentially higher, reaching “Legendary Critical!” status. Basically, criticals become open ended rolls. This again puts some variation and fun into the standard combat, and gives you a nice smile when you one shot that otherwise pesky tough creature because lady luck smiled on you!
Dawntide’s Crown Market.
I recently raved about this, so I won’t bore you with another description. But it was something in my time in Beta that I absolutely adored.
There’s others I’m sure, but these were the ones that jumped out at me. Now if someone would just put them all together in a new game, eh? What fun that would be!
LotRO has it. Others don’t. We need more of it!