There’s always something in MMO’s that players, as a majority, do not enjoy doing. Maybe it’s the leveling process or a skill grind. The questions I want to pose to you today are: Should it be that way or can it be any other way?
Dark Age of Camelot serves as a great example. The game can really be broken down into two components: PvE and PvP. The PvE game took placealmost exclusively from the time the player starts their character up until reaching level 50. At 50, players could then choose to jump entirely into PvP or mix the game up. For those who were only into the PvP, leveling from 1-50 could be considered something that stood in the way of playing the game they would rather play. However, what would DAOC have been like without the PvE? I submit that it would not have been the same game at all and that even the PvP play would have suffered a detrimental alteration given that the PvP was heavily based upon your realm community which was built up by the PvE.
Darkfall, at least in the first few months after release (don’t attack me if it has changed), was heavily based on grinding skills. The combat style was fun and the geopolitics made for some great gameplay, but the skill system stood in the way of that enjoyment for me. If the skill grind had been removed and everyone placed on equal footing, I think I would have enjoyed the game a whole lot more.
World of Warcraft’s leveling process has always been fun for me–in some masochistic way–but i have to admit that the game, as it stands now, would not be altered greatly if the leveling were made optional and players could opt into starting right at the max level.
Should it be that way? Should players be presented with ‘stuff’ they don’t want to do? I think everyone would say that it shouldn’t be that way–that players should be able to enjoy every part of the game without the presence of a part they do not like stopping them. Can it be done any other way? I tend to think that, on the whole, games that shoot straight for giving players exactly what they want end up being shallower experiences. Cutting out the fat takes away all the flavor.
After thinking back to the games you’ve played in the past, I would be interested in hearing your responses. I tend to lean more towards the side that embraces, albeit after the fact, the harder parts or the parts that felt like they were standing in my way, hindering me from doing what I wanted to do. I think it has made me appreciate those good parts even more, and in some cases been the foundation that gave those good parts their ability to exist.