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General: Most Overused MMO Conventions

StraddenStradden Managing EditorMember CommonPosts: 6,696

Finding the MMO space a little bit repetitive these days? MMORPG.com's Bill Murphy writes this list of seven of what he feels are the most over-used conventions in the genre.

The List

Now, I'm not writing this list to start fights. In fact, "The Most Overused MMO Conventions" could just as easily be a list of what makes an MMO tick. But if we couldn't point out faults or redundancies in our entertainment, we'd be blind fanatics. Like poking fun at oneself, poking fun at the things we love serves a valuable purpose... it keeps everything in perspective. I love LOST, but I know just how ridiculous the show is based on its need to keep preempting every season with a lengthy recap of what shenanigans the passengers have been up to. Similarly, I love MMO gaming, but I'd be glad to see some old habits of the industry and the players change in the coming years. I warn you, this whole thing is going to sound like one giant complaint, but trust me I'm just having a bit of fun. Here then, are seven of what I consider to be the most overused MMO conventions.

Read the Most Overused MMO Conventions.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

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Comments

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Member Posts: 2,697

    I can agree with that whole list except for acronyms and fantasy. Yes they are used but not overused.

     

    My reason for saying that is simple. First acronyms are used in every aspect of life, always have been, always will be. We like to save time when we can.

     

    Second if a game isn't fantasy it normally means it has guns. If it has guns I only want it to be a FPS, if it's an FPS it's tough to make it an MMO because ping matters so much more now. Also there are so many FPS that are doing it right, doing it fun, and are a box sale and that's it.

    When it comes to MMOs I actually prefer fantasy. Larger scale melee combat is interesting. It also makes more sense as far as being a hero is concerned. Let's face it the sword fighting days were littered with heroes because it came down to skill and one on one fighting. Modern day we don't have heroes because one lucky bullet is all it takes, so it's all about group tactics and being careful.

     

    I've tried many of the non-fantasy MMOs that have come out and they're never as fun. Having a gun work on a dice roll is as unintersting as it gets, so does having cooldowns on shots and 3rd person perspective.

    The thing that can change is the fantasy creatures/worlds. Currently most of them are the same creatures, same classes, same basic world, same basic plot line. Asheron's Call is the only one I've played that made all it's own creatures, no classes, and unique plot line.

     

    EDIT: And as for your example of Global Agenda, I disagree. I think everything about that game is done all wrong, and having a fee to play is ridiculous. It has less features, less players, smaller match sizes, and is less interesting then all the big name FPS titles out there. It will have a small community and will never get large. It literally tried to take regular FPS multiplayer gaming and stick an MMO pricing scheme on it. Sure they can market saying it has no elves, but it has no interest either.

  • battleaxebattleaxe Member UncommonPosts: 158

    The worst quest type is where you have to retrieve some body part drop from a certain mob.  For example, "collect ten <random body part here> from the grey spotted wolves in area X".  You go to area X and the white spotted wolves, white wolves, grey wolves, and tan wolves, that look exactly like the grey spotted wolves except for the name floating over the mobs' heads, simply will not drop the body parts.  When you actually find the grey spotted wolves, only some of the mobs actually have the random body part.  With enough of these quests, you end up fighting blind, deaf, mute, earless, tongueless, bloodless, spineless, gutless, tail-less, clawless, toothless, skinless, boneless, quadraplegic animals that can still find you and kill you somehow.

    The guy who invented random+rare drops from random+rare mobs should be virtually drawn and quartered in every mmo town square for eternity.

    The worst gameplay element in MMO's is the complete lack of physicality to combat.  Two opponents face off and we end up watching two sponges slowly whacking the water out of each other with wet noodles.  Little numbers popping up over their heads, an animation of a swing that doesn't connect, and their health bars slowly dropping towards empty are the only indications that anything is happening.  When a 500 pound minotaur hits a 50 pound gnome with an hammer head the size of a volkswagon bug, the gnome should be following the trajectory of a golf ball, not standing there with a little number popping up over his head.  If the equivalent of a big bag full of dynamite explodes in a small room full of players and mobs, everyone should be plastered against the wall with blood coming out of every orifice and anything flammable should either be smoking or on fire.  Instead, a fireball selectively targets my opponents and little numbers pop up over their heads.  whee.

    Aggro is also a stupid idea.  I'm a big mob with a warrior in full platemail in my face swinging a huge axe at me and calling my mother nasty names.  However, I'm going to go squash the little gnome some 30 feet behind the warrior, with the warrior still whacking on my back, because I magically know the gnome waggled his fingers just a little too much and did more "threat" than the warrior.  If the mob has any intelligence at all, he should squash the healers first - every single time.

  • CaesarsGhostCaesarsGhost Member Posts: 2,136

    on your last note:

    you forgot "TLDR" ;-)

     

    Actually the article was fairly humorous.

    - CaesarsGhost

    Lead Gameplay and Gameworld Designer for a yet unnamed MMO Title.
    "When people tell me designing a game is easy, I try to get them to design a board game. Most people don't last 5 minutes, the rest rarely last more then a day. The final few realize it's neither fun nor easy."

  • SovrathSovrath Member LegendaryPosts: 27,344

    I agree on the acronmyms. Can't stand them. CAN'T!

    Heck, half the time in Warhammer I just don't know what they are talking about because there are acronyms for every damn skill.

    The Fed Ex quest is another one. I stopped Playing Spellborn because the first quest I was given was to run around to some towers to get reports. I felt something break inside and uninstalled the game. Could be the greatest game in history but something in that moment just put its hand over mine and said "stop, go watch a movie".

    Giant Rats?

    www.youtube.com/watch  (go to :31)

     

    As far as fantasy, I prefer fantasy mmo's, I tend to lose interest in the sci-fi. I think for me there is something more iconic or romanticized about hefting a sword or summoning demons over shooting a gun.

    Levels I enjoy so there is no issue with that. Alternate advancement would be fine as well.




  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Member RarePosts: 14,247

    I like your articles, Bill. When I read most gaming blogs, it feels like the author's sole point is to either educate me on the gaming industry or steer me to the 'right path' of thinking regarding game design.

    You write to entertain and you do that very well. It's a refreshing and enjoyable change of pace from the usual gaming site editorial or blog.

     

    Keep 'em coming!

     

     

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • maplestonemaplestone Member UncommonPosts: 3,099

    7. I find "kill ten rats" quests are often a result of a mismatch between the story and the world - you've created a world with rats and you're trying to create a story arc that people follow ... so you wedge in "kill some rats" to justify the rats being there.

    6. The holy trinity isn't a failing of the design, it's just the mathematics of game theory - no matter how many options you put in the game, when you shake it, it will degenerate into one best strategy or a rock-paper-scissors (you can get more complex webs, but they're more and more unstable to any tweaks).  You can get some inspiration from predator-prey relationships in nature, but even there, things really boil down to dps/trap vs tank/evade/poison vs regenerate/out-reproduce.

    5. The fed-ex quests make up for the fact that there's no fundamental reason to know which direction to head (yes, you could rely on people to pay close attention to the story arc to walk in the right direction, but we all have our limit to how much fantasy geography we want to research/memorize before getting started).

    4. I like to keep my fantasy separate from my reality - and most of what passes for sci-fi is really just a glossy skin on fantasy, full of its own wizards and trolls anyways.

    3. Not a problem I've encountered in games - but if you're going to make the equipment matter, it's nice to be able to see it.

    2. Like it or not, one of the big draws of MMOs is the illusion of ever-increasing wealth and power.  I have noticed though that in a lot of MMOs, levels are really just a fed-ex quest in disguise - they get you moving from zone to zone, following an arc of foes gaining power at the same rate you are.  I was always fascinated by the old Traveller sci-fi pencil-and-paper RPG because it was one of the few level-free games out there in that early wave of games - once you made your character, it was your character for the rest of the campaign, no advancement.

    1. Every field needs new words to express core ideas more compactly - if it wasn't acronyms it would be nonsense-word jargon.

     

    My biggest pet peeve with MMOs is that almost all of them are not "worlds" -  the same quest gets repeated by a thousands of different people and the NPC never seems to notice.  That's all fine and well in single-player games and novels where everyone has their own private universe in their imagination, but it grates on me when it's a shared, persistent universe.

  • SteamRangerSteamRanger Member UncommonPosts: 920

    In reading through your list, Bill, I couldn't help but think that Pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies went a long way towards steering away from most of the issues you listed. All the devs had to do was keep working on the gameplay. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go spend some quality time with my Collector's Edition.

    "Soloists and those who prefer small groups should never have to feel like they''re the ones getting the proverbial table scraps, as it were." - Scott Hartsman, Senior Producer, Everquest II
    "People love groups. Its a fallacy that people want to play solo all the time." - Scott Hartsman, Executive Producer, Rift

  • SimsuSimsu Member UncommonPosts: 386

    I hope next week, or whenever, you'll have a list of underused mmo conventions, because as a stand alone article this is really kinda lacking, imho.

  • docminusdocminus Member Posts: 717

    You forgot one thing regarding armour:

    when it comes to female characters, the armour is often rather "undersized". The more powerfull the armour, the less body surface seems to be covered....

    imageimage

  • fatenabu1fatenabu1 Member Posts: 381

    i agree with the author..



    Dustin

  • just1opinionjust1opinion Member UncommonPosts: 4,641
    Originally posted by battleaxe


    The worst quest type is where you have to retrieve some body part drop from a certain mob.  For example, "collect ten <random body part here> from the grey spotted wolves in area X".  You go to area X and the white spotted wolves, white wolves, grey wolves, and tan wolves, that look exactly like the grey spotted wolves except for the name floating over the mobs' heads, simply will not drop the body parts.  When you actually find the grey spotted wolves, only some of the mobs actually have the random body part.  With enough of these quests, you end up fighting blind, deaf, mute, earless, tongueless, bloodless, spineless, gutless, tail-less, clawless, toothless, skinless, boneless, quadraplegic animals that can still find you and kill you somehow.
    The guy who invented random+rare drops from random+rare mobs should be virtually drawn and quartered in every mmo town square for eternity.
    The worst gameplay element in MMO's is the complete lack of physicality to combat.  Two opponents face off and we end up watching two sponges slowly whacking the water out of each other with wet noodles.  Little numbers popping up over their heads, an animation of a swing that doesn't connect, and their health bars slowly dropping towards empty are the only indications that anything is happening.  When a 500 pound minotaur hits a 50 pound gnome with an hammer head the size of a volkswagon bug, the gnome should be following the trajectory of a golf ball, not standing there with a little number popping up over his head.  If the equivalent of a big bag full of dynamite explodes in a small room full of players and mobs, everyone should be plastered against the wall with blood coming out of every orifice and anything flammable should either be smoking or on fire.  Instead, a fireball selectively targets my opponents and little numbers pop up over their heads.  whee.
    Aggro is also a stupid idea.  I'm a big mob with a warrior in full platemail in my face swinging a huge axe at me and calling my mother nasty names.  However, I'm going to go squash the little gnome some 30 feet behind the warrior, with the warrior still whacking on my back, because I magically know the gnome waggled his fingers just a little too much and did more "threat" than the warrior.  If the mob has any intelligence at all, he should squash the healers first - every single time.

     

     

    EVERYTHING in this post made me laugh, while at the same time, making me want to cry because of the sheer, unparalleled and awful TRUTH of it all.

     

    I also truly enjoyed the OP. I can pretty much agree on everything said, with the usual exceptions to each rule, but yes....some things have become the "staple" of MMOs, for better or sometimes...for worse.

    President of The Marvelously Meowhead Fan Club

  • quickman007quickman007 Member Posts: 125

    slow week?

  • onetruthonetruth Member Posts: 100

    I agree for the most part, but the problem is that list isn't just conventions, it defines the whole genre.

    ...

  • neodavieneodavie Member Posts: 278

    Good Article Stradden, I'm a little confused by Acronyms being on the list as it's basically just shorthand. But this makes me wonder, is Second Life the only MMO for you ? Haw haw.

    Originally posted by GTwander:

    How are you an MMO? Or any of us for that matter?

    I say we strike all users from the site for not being MMOs.

  • LansidLansid Member Posts: 1,097

     OOM medding, pop, add, train, boat, wtb/wts fbss pst, sow plz, breeze plz, buffs, dps, dots, kite, aggro, mobs, lfg...

    Those are the ones I can recall offhand from just EQ classic alone... some shorthand name uses weren't as bad, but EQ1 was definetly the beginning of mainstream shorthand sp33k.

    "There is only one thing of which I am certain, and that's nothing is certain."

  • schawoschawo Member Posts: 135

     You should play EVE.

    #7: There are no ktr missions. You will have to kill npc, but not in ktr style. You will be dropped in the middle of a conflict, and you will have to be smart or clear the field.

    #6: There are no classes, and obviously no trinity.

    #5: There are Fed-Ex missions, but you can choose agents, which never give you any.

    #4: There Are No Elves. Period.

    #3: There are no fancy stuff on your ship, thus no oversized ones.

    #2: Levels? Haha.

    #1: EVE. You can shorten it to E, if you want :), but I think it is short enough for the most stroppy ppl, as well.

  • MorvMorv Member UncommonPosts: 331

    I have a solution for every single one of your complaints. hmm... What should I do...

  • ZakaneZakane Member UncommonPosts: 71
    Originally posted by schawo


     You should play EVE.
    #7: There are no ktr missions. You will have to kill npc, but not in ktr style. You will be dropped in the middle of a conflict, and you will have to be smart or clear the field.
    #6: There are no classes, and obviously no trinity.
    #5: There are Fed-Ex missions, but you can choose agents, which never give you any.
    #4: There Are No Elves. Period.
    #3: There are no fancy stuff on your ship, thus no oversized ones.
    #2: Levels? Haha.
    #1: EVE. You can shorten it to E, if you want :), but I think it is short enough for the most stroppy ppl, as well.
     
     
    I pretty sure there are mining missions and, travel to this point mission which is just the same anyway, not to mention looooong travel time.  Your always in space - green space, blue space, red space, brown space, black space, purple space - regardless of the colors its space.
    I dunno I found eve boring - I think just not a space RTSish type of person.
    Anyway my point is EVE isn't a god send and there been many game just like it. The problem with MMOs is its all been done before so finding something new is like finding a needle in a hay-stack.
     

     

  • schawoschawo Member Posts: 135
    Originally posted by Zakane

    Originally posted by schawo


     You should play EVE.
    #7: There are no ktr missions. You will have to kill npc, but not in ktr style. You will be dropped in the middle of a conflict, and you will have to be smart or clear the field.
    #6: There are no classes, and obviously no trinity.
    #5: There are Fed-Ex missions, but you can choose agents, which never give you any.
    #4: There Are No Elves. Period.
    #3: There are no fancy stuff on your ship, thus no oversized ones.
    #2: Levels? Haha.
    #1: EVE. You can shorten it to E, if you want :), but I think it is short enough for the most stroppy ppl, as well.
     
     
    I pretty sure there are mining missions and, travel to this point mission which is just the same anyway, not to mention looooong travel time.  Your always in space - green space, blue space, red space, brown space, black space, purple space - regardless of the colors its space.
    I dunno I found eve boring - I think just not a space RTSish type of person.
    Anyway my point is EVE isn't a god send and there been many game just like it. The problem with MMOs is its all been done before so finding something new is like finding a needle in a hay-stack.
     

     

    There are mining and fedex missions for mazochists. You can choose which type of agents you are working with.

     

  • DameonkDameonk Member UncommonPosts: 1,914

    The funny thing about this list is that the original Ultima Online didn't have any of these "conventions" except it was semi-fantasy based. 

    "There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer."

  • PhelimReaghPhelimReagh Member UncommonPosts: 680
    Originally posted by Simsu


    I hope next week, or whenever, you'll have a list of underused mmo conventions, because as a stand alone article this is really kinda lacking, imho.

    I'm going to have to go "plus one" here (though I hate that).

     

    The MMO community is the best at saying what sucks, but guess what? Coming up with the alternative is the tricky part.

     

    The alternatives to these overused conventions are hard to find, and practically impossible to find done right.

  • OrthelianOrthelian Member UncommonPosts: 1,028

    I like a good abbreviation for anything that is unwieldy when used casually.

    Initializing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to ALS or National Aeronautics and Space Administration to NASA seems quite reasonable, especially in verbal communication.

    Monk abbreviated to MNK is not. It's one word composed of four characters and you've removed one. Holy shit. Not to mention that whilst the word is one syllable, your 'abbreviation' is three.

    Favorites: EQEVETOR | Playing: No MMOs since 2014. Mostly VR and strategy | Anticipating: CUPantheon
  • ProfRedProfRed Member UncommonPosts: 3,493

    lol u got Gigglesporked

  • EvasiaEvasia Member Posts: 2,827

    Ive waited for 6 years to play Darkfall and one of my biggest dissapointments was kill 10 gobs or deliver this package in same town to other npc bah:(

    Bud Dungeons and dragons?, i thought almost all games where moddeled after tolkien book ?

    I have feeling most roleplaying games(no acronyms right) are lord of the rings copys lol.

     

    Games played:AC1-Darktide'99-2000-AC2-Darktide/dawnsong2003-2005,Lineage2-2005-2006 and now Darkfall-2009.....
    In between WoW few months AoC few months and some f2p also all very short few weeks.

  • EvasiaEvasia Member Posts: 2,827
    Originally posted by Deestroy


    Its one of the things I hate most about these games coming out, The armor looks less like Fantasy Armor, And More like something From  Mech Commander, with swords that are twice as long as the body, Too Wide for the hilt and also shaped like giant butcher knives.
     
    Oh and they glow blue, lime green and Bright Pink  and other Christmas colors.

     

    Its sells mass loved it thats why:(

    Games played:AC1-Darktide'99-2000-AC2-Darktide/dawnsong2003-2005,Lineage2-2005-2006 and now Darkfall-2009.....
    In between WoW few months AoC few months and some f2p also all very short few weeks.

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