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Free for All: My very own top ten list of MMO pet peeves


I couldn't just sit back and let Justin Olivetti have all the fun, could I? When he published The Perfect Ten: My gaming pet peeves, I swept my fist to the sky and screamed "Sypsterrrr!" Literally a week earlier I had jotted down an idea for a similar column. I mean jotted down because I keep yellow pads around the house for late-night ideas or dog-walk eurekas.

Of course his will probably end up the superior article as he is the better writer (and has a good bit of facial hair), but I'm going to present mine anyway. In fact I'll do one better by listing 11 of my MMO pet peeves because, well, I jotted down 11.

Box price screenshot
Do not mistake my dislike of a box price to be a dislike for paying developers. I am actually quite generous with my wallet. Just recently I bought Defiance for the full price (and it went half-off a few days later) and then put $40 US into the cash-shop to buy a new car and inventory slots. I just don't like box prices because buy-to-play developers rarely offer a trial at the same time; they might release the game for free later anyway and are not guaranteeing that the box price equals a long life for the game. My favorite plan is a free client with a tempting cash shop on top. See the Eastern models.

No Trial screenshot
As I mentioned above, not offering a trial for your game makes me feel as if you're offering something out of a trench coat. "Hey kid, wanna' buy a watch?" A trial is a test-drive, and as much as I enjoy writing criticism of games I rarely -- if ever -- trust game criticism. I know that I have to try something out to see if I like it, regardless of hype, reviews, or fancy trailers. Luckily, buy-to-play is not the prominent model in the industry, so this peeve rarely shows up for petting.

Poor chat options screenshot
If I cannot adjust the main chat box or pop-up in a game, I get very frustrated. It's still very, very common to find a game that doesn't allow players to do anything with the chat box or offers only a bugged-out chat that makes communication a chore. Give me a customizable channel with font choices, background options, and re-sizing. Otherwise I'll just play the mute.

Ugly Character Models screenshot
The best: Free Realms, The Chronicles of Spellborn, Guild Wars 2, and Ryzom. The good: PlanetSide 2, Defiance, and MilMo. The worst: Lord of the Rings Online.

The Grind screenshot
I have "evolved" on my stance about grinding. Now that I see how MMOs from Korea or China came from PC "bangs" (cafes) and the good chance that players will spend a lot of in-game time surrounded in real-life by real-life friends (remember LAN parties?), I can understand how grind culture became popular. There are all sorts of mindless, boring activities that actually become quite fun when you are doing them with a group of your pals. The grind that I cannot understand is the worker-grind, or the grind that someone puts herself through when she feels she needs to "keep up" with guildmates, gear, or expectations. That's work, not play.

Bright Armor screenshot
I truly enjoy science fiction, but for the life of me I cannot understand how many sci-fi MMOs expect players to believe that it is somehow stealthy or smart to wear armor into battle that is peppered with bright lights. I've even witnessed stealth suits that have these odd LEDs placed on them. The only explanation I can come up with is the same one I have for bad fonts and bright text on a dark background: Some sci-fi developers have a hard time being original.

MMORTS Farming screenshot
I love a good MMORTS because it feels like a giant board game with thousands of players. I hate an MMORTS that is filled with players who can literally "farm" other towns because the combat is so non-punishing that a player like yours truly can log back in after months away and hardly notice that he was attacked. Farming is stupid.

Bad Communities screenshot
Ah, there's nothing like being force-fed a horrible community and realizing that this game that you were so excited for is filled with 12 types of juvenile delinquent. I love a good PvP title, but I cannot understand how a developer can equate poor community behavior with hardcore gameplay. Allowing players to use racist language does nothing to further "free speech," but it does do a lot to help further the 17-year-old child agenda. It's not just PvP games that have bad communities, of course. Just the other day I complained about how surprised I was to find nothing but horrible language filling the EverQuest chat-box.

No Trade screenshot
Trade is something that most MMOs offer in some form, but so few get it right. Trade, and I mean real trade, can be a game in itself. I'm not talking about player-to-player trading. I mean long trips, region-only markets, specialty items, long roads, and journeys interspersed with actual camping. Mabinogi has done some work with real trade lately, and games like EVE Online have always offered some fun options, but it's not common yet. I doubt it ever will be.

Live Events screenshot
I recently wrote about the death of live events, but I am still no closer to understanding why MMO developers do not use them as much as I think they once did. Of course, I could be looking back on the old days with some tinted glasses, but it would be nice see more mainstream games offering real interaction with GM-controlled characters. I truly believe that many developers do not want to host live events due to the fear of backlash from community members who miss the events. That's unfortunate.

Control Schemes screenshot
Poor control schemes will set me off into a nerd rage quicker than an EverQuest player who thinks that someone just suggested his favorite game become "easier." W means forward, as in your character moves forward. S means your character walks backward, not that he turns around to run towards the camera. A means your character turns left, and D means he turns right. The same scheme is repeated on the arrow keys. The camera stays glued to the back of the character's head. Got it?

See you next week.

Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to!

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