- In fact, BioWare isn’t afraid to ruffle the feathers of competing MMOs by claiming that they sacrifice fun, story and interesting content while training players to rush through it all to the end game. Despite studios and players resisting change, Lead Writer Daniel Erickson claims that it’s time for MMOs to challenge traditional conventions and return to their RPG roots: “The thing that has been a challenge for us on Old Republic is that people tried to convince us these limitations were canon – that they were to be respected, you know? That you could not, in fact, put interesting bits in an MMO because that was now sacrilege.”
I think that’s absolutely right. We forget that when World of Warcraft launched, it was in fact a pretty damn grindy, slow game. It took me months of dedicated playing to get to level 60. Which only changed somewhat recently. And I think, were Blizzard to release another MMO today, it would start off just as grindy.
See, a slow ‘grind’ to cap is actually fine (as long as it’s not too punishing, the trick is making early content compelling enough and keeping progression slow but steady rather than hitting a ‘wall’). That’s where we learned all about WoW. That’s when we read quest text, and where every block of XP was precious, every new green item upgrade exciting, every new instance a breath of fresh air. When doing a few quests a night was an accomplishment rather than merely a source of income or necessary reputation. When the game was new, the grind was fine. So to fear grind in your MMO and make it too easy to rush to the level cap only to find no content (I’m looking at you, Champions Online) is a surefire way to ruin the long term aspirations and potential of your game.
Instead, look at heirlooms in WoW, and consider something similar for ToR. The first time you play the game should be magical, and exciting, and fun. Months of learning, exploring, discovering. But by the third or fourth play through, it starts getting old. So you could help smooth things along for players on their fourth or fifth character by utilising something like Account Bound heirlooms, XP pots only purchasable at the level cap, etc.
At any rate I’m looking forward to meaningful story in an MMO again. WoW definitely has story, people tend to make that mistake. It’s just that we’ve seen this story all too many times already. As any WoW fan about Culling of Stratholme pre-‘shortcut’. Story’s important and grinding and pacing are useful tools to prolonging the content and value of the game. Just don’t focus on them to the exclusion of everything else (I’m looking at you, Aion).
P.S this post heralds the beginning of my hype and coverage of The Old Republic, which I’m hoping will be the MMO to finally shake me of my WoW fixation. Boy am I looking forward to playing my Sith Warrior, Darth Skurmish!