The perils of railroading in MMOs

Eliot Lefebvre
E. Lefebvre|11.09.09

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The perils of railroading in MMOs

If your gaming origins consist of old-school tabletop gaming, you most likely know and fear the term railroading. It's used to describe an innocent-enough formulation that begins in a large number of games, usually run by younger players, wherein players are more or less forced along a preset path no matter what they might choose to do. That's a Terrible Idea recently took certain parts of the MMO world to task for this as well, as offering precisely that -- a game streamlined so effectively that you have no choices to be made. In particular it cites Aion as an example of a game offering a straight-line, no-thought approach to the genre.

Certainly one of the common criticisms of some newer games, such as Aion and Champions Online, is that you find yourself pushed along on a narrow set of tracksw toward an inevitable conclusion, without many choices to be made in terms of gameplay. On the flip side, of course, it's hard to argue that a certain amount of streamlining is a good thing -- we might miss the sensation of wondering what we should do next, but not the sensation of having no idea what comes next. But there's an argument to be made that streamlining too far removes the whole reason we play the game, and it certainly destroys any hope of meaningful immersion when all your choices have already been made.
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