The things that I really like about MMOs, not necessarily in descending order, are:
1. The feeling that I am a real person, in a real world.
Character customisation is a big part of feeling as though I am playing a unique character – I have to play around with that area until I get exactly the right look, and the right name.
Feeling that I am in a real world is a bit more subjective…sometimes I couldn’t tell you why one world felt real, and another didn’t. LotRO never felt “real” to me – although I know a lot of people who thought it was quite immersive. It just felt too sterile. Warcraft, even though the graphics are very stylised, always felt like a real place. I remember the first time I saw a wolf run after a rabbit and kill it…I was enchanted. (Noob moment, I know.) I’ve been in Barrens in the early morning, when the dawn light is just creeping across the plains, and that felt very beautiful and very real. Add a herd of antelope, and it was a perfect gaming moment.
2. I like being able to solo but still feel that there are people around me.
By choice, I solo. I hate pickup groups, I don’t like grouping with people for quests unless it’s impossible to do otherwise. But I definitely need to know that there are other players around me…I hate single-player games. I want to go into a city and see crowds of other people – even if some of them are goldsellers and most of the rest of them are jerks. ;)
3. I like the idea of roleplaying.
Do you see how I qualified that statement? By choice I’ll roll on RP servers. Since all my successful characters are “people”, they’ll usually have a backstory and a definite personality. I could roleplay them quite easily…but I usually feel like a tard doing so. Stupid, I know – but I’m shy. :D
4. I like hunter-type pet classes.
My favourite class is hunter, hands-down, and it has everything to do with the customisable nature of your pet, and the synergy between character and pet. I’ve played other classes, like warlocks with demons and mages with spirit pets, and while it’s nice to have a pet to tank, you still don’t feel as though they are real entities. Kitsune levelled to 70 with her boar Ennui, who was her very best friend and a big part of her backstory.
I’d love to see another hunter-type class in a different MMO.
5. Raiding/Instances. Hmmnn…that’s a love/hate.
Perhaps because I raided for so long, I’m totally burned out on raiding. But there was a time when I was in love with the fact that 40, or 25, or whatever people could come together and work in concert to do difficult things. I absolutely loved it.
I like small instances as well – as long as I can do them with friends. I loathe pickup groups. (I have the worst luck as well – if you’re emotionally defective in some way, or any type of idiot or asstard, I’ve probably pugged with you.)
I love exploring new areas – I’ll have sessions where that’s all I’ll do. I especially love games like Warcraft that kind of fill in your map as you discover new areas – it feels as satisfying as filling in your map with stickers as a child.
7. As for MMO settings…
That’s a tough one. I love fantasy MMOs, although along with the rest of the world I am bored with the traditional high fantasy races: elf, human, dwarf. I’d like something new. Gaming is escapism for me, and fantasy tends to be highly romanticised (I probably spelled that wrong), so I do like fantasy.
I also read a lot of science fiction, and I love sci-fi in games. EVE felt like a real environment – the whole experience was gorgeously done. I was less happy with not really having an avatar, though. I’m looking forward to Walking in Stations. I was really, really excited about the Stargate MMO, and was bitterly disappointed that we’ll probably never see it. I think that may have been the perfect sci-fi MMO for me – so many gates, with different environments and encounters behind each one.
So what about you – what do you like best about MMOs?