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Why Are Our Gameplay Options Being Taken Away in MMORPGs?

Yesterday’s topic about solo content missing from EQ was part of a bigger discussion I had with an EQ veteran friend. While trying to figure out why the devs removed the solo content from the game, we started discussing MMORPGs in general, and why devs don’t give people more leveling options in general.

A game like EQ is predominantly group-based experience to level up. Can you technically solo? Yes, but at a severe disadvantage in almost every case.

WoW is a game where you quest to level up. Can you still monsters for experience? Yes, but at a severely impractical rate. Interestingly, like EQ, the WoW devs changed the game. I remember playing in the first few months of launch and getting most of my experience 40-60 from grinding mobs. In fact, on more than one server I was the first level 60 Hunter and I made most of my experience from grinding — 55-60 was at these ghosts in the winter zone. It was mind-numbing, but it was efficient.

Why not let the player decide? If I’m playing a MMORPG and I want to solo, let me have my solo options. If I would rather group then give me options for grouping. If I want to hunt for treasure instead then let that be an option. Maybe have hunting for treasure come at a cost of no experience, but make it an option; Just throwing out thoughts.

I would like MMOs to be about options and open-ended choices for adventure. All of the ‘greats’ in MMO history were full of openness and choice. UO was a sandbox world without rules or expectations. There wasn’t a “this is what we should all be doing to advance” mindset. SWG let you choose a vocation and build houses, craft weapons, or hunt krayt dragons. EQ, to a much lesser extent than the aforementioned sandboxes, still let you choose a path of leveling and playing your way.

Instead of asking “is is possible” to give players the freedom to play how they want — since we know it has been done — I want to ask “why” isn’t it being done anymore. Why do you guys think our options are being taken away? Too much work to get right? Bucks the themepark trend? Too niche? I’m curious what you think is the reason, and whether or not you even want choices in your MMOs.

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