One of the issues I have with so many modern AAA titles is that when I play them, I immediately feel forced through a series of noisy and chaotic moments. I know that these tutorials are supposed to make me feel as though I am stepping into a sort of world-on-fire, but to me it just feels like a mess. RIFT
is a great game, truly, but every time I want to start a new character or try the game out again, I dread going through the annoying tutorial. It's so demanding
. It grabs my hand and pulls me through a linear series of non-discoveries.
Now, this might just be my fading gamer memory, but I distinctly remember how it felt to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere in an MMO. While there are a few modern titles like Wurm Online
that basically do the same thing, the mystery and immersion of those first few levels in most major MMOs has been replaced by sheer noise. I don't like it.
Good pacing is a wonderful thing. If it's tweaked just right, players feel immediately invested in a world even while feeling completely lost. I'd like to make this week's dream MMO using those older-game designs. It's time to slow down.
How many of you remember logging into a title years ago and saying to yourself, "Oh, what do I do now?
" It probably hasn't happened to many of you for a while, unless you are willing to try some of the more daring indie titles or revisit older titles like Ultima Online
. Even if you are willing to explore, you are not getting the exact
same experience as years ago. Even older or more "hardcore" sandboxes often feature pop-up tutorials these days. Many of those tutorials are needed or are very handy; don't get me wrong. I have to admit that there have been times when I cursed a game because it simply confused the heck out of me. But confusing design and immersive pacing can be two separate issues.
I'm not just crying about how MMOs were made "in the old days." I loved a lot about the older games and still do to the point that I will be covering them a lot over the next few months, but there was much to be desired back then. I have never been a fan of bad UI design or confusing systems, and frankly, I'm not convinced that the lovely, sluggish gameplay I am referring to was not the result of inefficient design. Heck, it's possible that those awesome several-hour long treks through dangerous landscapes back then were really the result of massive, empty zones. Either way, the effect was the same: Afterward, I felt as though I achieved something. That something didn't come from conquering a massive dragon or dungeon but from traveling somewhere or discovering a new place.
I've pined for more realistic travel so much that I have actually created my own set of rules
to force my characters to walk on foot or horseback. To me, simply getting somewhere should be an adventure, especially in a world that is inhabited by monsters.