“Mechanics should serve content, not the other way around and absolutely not in MMOs.” This is a thesis statement for Matthew Gollschewski’s Soapbox article this afternoon on Massively, and I agree completely.
It’s like MMOs are turning into a toy race. To be the next greatest thing, they need to sport more prongs and articulations to be interesting.
Except Elder Scrolls, and that’s partly why I’m bucking the trend in predicting the long run will go well for them. If ESO can manage both simple *and* fun, they can gain strong appeal in the MMO market. The overcomplication complaint is cropping up more and more.
For example, before reading Matthew’s article, I was pondering how Rift’s Dream Weaving system seems like a waste of effort. Here is the premise:
“Between 40% and 60% of our daily active users chase artifacts (and by chasing, I mean harvesting). When so many people are avidly hunting for something, there’s only one logical conclusion: give them more of what they want.” – Barish Orhon, November 19th, 2013
That’s dumb logic. If prospectors love hunting for gold, dump lots of gold in them streams! If elves love hunting butterflies, make rare butterflies, butterflies that can mutate into turtles, butterflies that fuse with other butterflies to make super-special freakish butterflies!
No. Elves don’t like when you mess with mother nature. You’re taking two simple things players love and playing Frankenstein. The Rift directive seems to be that more is better. That did not work in Storm Legion. Storm Legion is big and thin.
On the other hand, you have to give Trion a lot of credit for actually supporting crafting, contrary to how F2P typically kills crafting by putting all of that awesome new stuff in the store. And Rift’s niche is both pro and extra-planar, so complex magical complications do fit for them.
In SWTOR, they are advertising the PvP maps and starfighting mechanic, but do you hear about the actual game content? What is the lore and story that these new mechanics deliver?
Where is the Kessel Run? I want to do the Kessel Run and see if I can make the PvE leaderboards for speed using my piloting skill. That would be story, fun, and immersion. I don’t need more exciting ways to kill more players with bigger explosions using bigger guns.
I’m not going to go too deeply into LotRO’s skirmish system. Turbine created the best mechanic the game has to offer, and then they abandoned it for mounted combat and Epic Battles. The Mirkwood expansion is now often considered to be the sunset of the glory days of LotRO.
Hindsight is 20/20, but I think if LotRO had doubled down on the skirmish mechanic serving the storyline content like in Mirkwood, ignoring a minority of complainers and pushing the soldiers into companion status like in SWTOR, and then selling better soldiers like in Neverwinter, the game would be in a better place today. Companions are also the lore.