Chore List: The MMO Killer
Nothing kills a MMO faster for me than a list of chores. When gameplay can be distilled down to a list of chores and tasks, burnout kicks in almost immediately.
Even the ‘best’ games that I’m enjoying and seemingly have no reason to suddenly stop are killed by the repetitive tasking. I think about a game like World of Warcraft as a perfect example. I really do like the world, the lore, aesthetic, general gameplay, etc. What I can’t stand are the assumptions on your time and gameplay.
I don’t like knowing that I have to log in every day and do a dungeon (or several), complete a dozen or more daily quests for currencies I need to accumulate a million of, run a raid at a certain time because of lockouts, get a weekly run of this and that in, etc. It’s just overwhelming, and instead of playing a character in a world I’m simply playing whack-a-mole or checking items off a never-ending honey-do list.
I prefer broad objective-based gameplay accompanying a more open style. There’s nothing wrong with giving the player a huge list of things they can do. It’s when the objectives are gated behind completing set numbers of these activities, then the activities are placed on daily or weekly timers. And despite what some people will say, gating said things behind timers is not the only way to keep people playing a game for a subscription model.
Replaying Skyrim has reminded me of how neat it is to know there’s a story and overarching objective looming over me, but the choice on how I go about accomplishing that is so open. I’m reminded of games like Star Wars Galaxies where my objectives were quite simply to live the life of a player in a Star Wars galaxy and see all the galaxy has to offer. Sure, there are daily quests and specific things you can do, but they aren’t stopping me from forging my own path of enjoyment.
I’ve always championed the idea that a player is in a game world to have fun — whatever that means for them. A player should never feel forced to play something that isn’t fun over a prolonged period of time, nor should a major portion of a game be about having a player jump through hoops they would rather avoid.
While effort and to-dos and even negative emotions are certainly required to emphasize and make those good times better, they should be interspersed with care.
The new generation of MMOs should focus on letting the player say, “this is what I want to do today,” instead of, “this is what I have to do today.”