Monster Diversity

Today’s post came to me while I was browsing game art for EverQuest Next.  I noticed a picture of a dragon–I like dragons so I clicked on it.  Upon seeing the various types of dragon-like monsters, I was originally thinking that I might simply write about my favorite type of dragon.  Massive dragons are AWESOME to fight in a MMORPG.  I started thinking about which of the dragons in this image would best match my favorite type (easy to choose, it’s the big one with wings and spikes) when I realized my answer: All of them.


Mob/Monster diversity is sorely lacking in modern MMOs.  Worst of all is the lack of monster types.  Now’days we fight humanoids and animals resembling common mammals. We fight the same monsters with different skins over, and over, and over.  When they really want to change things up they make the bigger or smaller.  I want TONS of different TYPES of monsters, but I also want tons of diversity beyond just skins.

I want entirely different types, animations, abilities, dangers, dynamics, etc.  I want some dragons in the sky, others burrowing below my feet, some running fast, etc.  I want massive monsters lumbering around castles and I want small or hidden creatures waiting to strike.

Visuals are important to me, but not in a graphics snob kind of way.  I can go back to the original EverQuest and the graphics don’t phase me.  Something they’ve done visually makes it all work.  I like diversity.  If everything starts to look the same then I start to get bored quickly.

I was running around WildStar last night and suddenly became overwhelmed with boredom.  I realized it was because for the first time I had reached and area of the game that felt mundane and all the same for over an hour of play.  The mobs were the same, the terrain was the same, the doodas in the world were the same.  WildStar typically feels well put-together but this area was not. It took only two deaths in a row for me to log out.  I largely blame the visuals and mob diversity for boring me to the breaking point.

This goes back to the idea of having a world that inspires, immerses, and captures the mind and heart of the player.  Monster diversity is a major ingredient.

  • I like the idea of specific mob types evolving across higher level zones.

    An example would be baby red dragon mob at low levels with a spectrum of mature up to ancient ones in high level zones and dungeons.

    It should be more than just increased hp and damage done, but also should involve the addition/loss of qualitative traits with maturity, including additional art assets (not just scaling the mob up in size).

  • I was always a fan of having higher level or harder monsters in lower level zones. Sand Giants in EQ, for example, were an awesome dynamic.

  • Interesting you should point this out.

    I still recall my disappointment in WoW when I finally made it to the mid level zones only to find them populated by “a slightly different shade of wolf”.

    I suspect again, it comes down to cost savings. The cost of putting unique mobs in each zone is simply too high. As the quality of the models and art increases, it just becomes cost prohibitive.

    Personally, I want more interesting mobs to fight. That’s always been my issue with MMo’s. The general combat basically boils down to wailing on damage sponges. You seldom feel like you have to pay attention to what’s

  • I thought Tera had great mob design, too bad that other than nice art and combat the game was kinda flat after a couple weeks.

  • Yeah the sand giants and griffins were diverse and fun. But this sounds familiar. It sounds like what you and I both say when we realize the game will be lucky to make it to a 3 monther. And that’s because of lack of difficulty and 90% of the player base having the same loot. Not mob diversity.

  • I have no idea why they are cutting monster types with the budgets modern games have. It seems a rather easy fix that even the most corporate game could make.

  • @Baba black sheep: WildStar has always been in that 3-monther themepark category for me. What will determine length beyond that is whether or not Carbine was smart with the end-game.

  • I’m of the opinion that WoW and GW2 have sufficient monster types. I feel a world should present a set of monster types that represent what your world is about rather than just endless random monster types for the sake of variety. Both games do this.

    I’d agree with commenters here that trash monsters occupy a pointless place, being too feeble to fight back and not numerous enough to gang up (like they would in Diablo for example).

    Actually I think GW2 is an exemplar in it’s handling of monsters in MMOs; I can’t imagine a better set up. Wherever I am I can have hard fights, easy fights (or suicidal fights) and they are a coherent set representative of Tyria as a place. Sure there is always room for more inventiveness but credit where it’s due.