All MMOs are lacking - to cater to their Massively Multiplayer Online nature - making networking/synchronizing and whatnot managable. The question at hand is...
'What are current MMOs lacking, according to you?'
Procedurally generated content would go a long way to making these games more interesting.
I do not expect the game play to become more interesting, and the simplicity is more of a core property than negotiable factor. But for a game predicated on boring repetition (where the interst is purely social) just moving the hallways and trash packs around a bit each time could make it a lot less rote.
A reason for me to play them. BOOM.
In all reality, it's the time-consuming nature of MMOs and the inherent grindiness that really turns me off from them. Yeah, a lot of the stuff in Star Wars the Old Republic looks interesting, but I'm also sure that in-between all the great story content is another 15 hours of farming junk.
MMOs don't feel like they have proper communities anymore. They all launch so big and then they start merging servers and moving people around. They instance so many things with people you will probably never see again. The 'matchmaking' effect is really ruining a lot of online games for me.
It's not just MMOs, but everything I play online lately. But with MMOs there is all of the weight that comes with that, that really drags it down. Fees, connectivity, maintenance, design choices that prolong everything to keep you paying for longer. It's easy to resent MMOs lately and I think it's because they just started to feel like every other game but with a lot more hassle.
The first M of the MMO feels really diminished.
I really don't think a currently infeasible gameplay hook makes any difference.
Good lord, where do I even began. For me, it's a myriad of things.
I know I'm forgetting shit, but those were some of the first things to come to mind.
Any redeeming features.
Would love to see more MMOs take EVE as their insipiration.
That would be a horrible idea. That isn't to say we couldn't use more games like EVE but the idea all new ones need be the time sink EVE is a very bad idea. If anything the reason why MMOs aren't as popular as MOBAs is it takes too long to do routine tasks and events.
Trade skill systems have traditionally been bound by balance concerns which stops them from being extensible. I would love if any game can solve this problem.
personally, i think wow just demolished the chances of me every enjoying another mmorpg. it's like, i know EQ existed beforehand and some others, and that allowed for a huge player community and interaction unlike any games before, like it transformed the medium in a way almost. for me and probably a lot of other people, wow came at a time when those things were very niche and completely blew the genre up so prettymuch everyone who plays games knew about it. it was a novelty for me at the time and now every new mmo feels like going through the motions. my take on why i don't like mmos anymore.
@jimbo: Oh yeah I can get behind that. The ideal has always been the "system staff" has minimal support in place to handle any technical stuff (refunds and restores for when the server goes down etc) but the rest is left free formed and for the players to decide. In such a game, the main trade city would spring up at a location because the players wanted it there instead of the developer building one there and so on.
WoW didn't demolish MMOs but you can't do the same "theme park MMO" again. This is the thing that killed SWTOR where they gleefully pointed out how boring WoW was and they didn't care about story but released a boring game with story that took too long to get through.
That also reminds me of another idea: More dynamic event generation. Instead of fighting the same target week after week after week, have the game server build custom events that depend on the team composition.
I think MMOs lost something around the point where the "Multiplayer" part became completely optional. I mean, sure, I enjoy playing solo a lot like any other guy, but when MMO's basically became "online single player game where you occasionally interact with other people" what distinguished an MMO from any other game completely disappeared.
Even setting aside the argument over what makes them better or worse from a qualitative perspective, I just feel like MMOs have more staying power in general when they're more multiplayer focused. WoW is the exception to the rule, and anyone who's tried to ape on WoW has basically crashed within a few months, because you can blitz through all the content yourself in most modern MMOs. You can't do that in EVE (you can barely do anything by yourself except NPC missions and mining.. slowly), you can't do that in FFXI, two games with really scarily dedicated followings. FFXI is like, a decade old, and just recently had an expansion for it.
It makes it difficult for the enthusiast press to cover MMOs, admittedly, when they're so slow and multiplayer focused so as to make a casual reading of the game nearly impossible, but if you're looking for the MMOs with staying power, it's not the Old Republics of the world. It's the EVEs and FFXIs.
the Massive part of the MMO. Too much instancing. It's worth it to let players butt heads occasionally to provide a more dynamic environment with higher stakes.
Right now MMOs feel sterile and safe. By trying to accommodate the lowest common denominator they've bled out everything interesting.
Of course the tank-heal-dmg combat dynamic is a dead end and broken-by-design. That combat dynamic is a tired old dog that wanted to crawl off and die 10 years ago.
Biggest thing for me, but also almost impossible to do it right:
Players actually affecting the world in a meaningful way. Which means being able to actually build and destroy stuff, and having an effect on factions living in areas. Eve Online does it a bit, but it would be way more impressive on land instead of empty, similar looking space systems.
Some games that tried to do this:
Good competitive community I suppose. Three factions, continuous PvP, and the suffix "of Camelot" as well. There's also something to be said for having crazy mechanics that are hard to balance around without introducing even crazier mechanics (Warhammer Online did this for a time) instead of the extremely static "WoW" style gameplay.
Fun? But seriously:
Now, I've played exactly one MMO (TOR) to the endgame, and a small amount of WoW back before the first expansion. Perhaps some MMOs have solved the above problems. If they have, they aren't known to me.
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