MMO killed the RPG Star.
Sorry to be lame, but it is true. Action/adventure games kinda started it with their lame lack of choices, FPS surely don’t give you much room to grow (except genre mixers like Mass Effect), and RTS have made efforts to add RPG elements, but please. MMORPGs should be MMOAAG, for Massive Multiplayer Online Action Adventure Games. Because that is all they are. Sure you get some character design as far as looks are, sure you can get different kinds of armor and weapons, you can choose what spells or skills to use… but how often is there any role playing involved?
“Why yes n00bkilzer304, let us unite against these evil monsters for a quest!”
“Ok, which dialogue option should I choose?”
“It doesn’t matter! Both result in the same thing.”
“Great! I was afraid there might be consequences for my choices, and I might not be able to get everything possible the game for a single character!”
These quotes can be used as good points.
1. Leet names. They kill any real interaction. While some may be comical, they really serve no purpose and are just plain annoying. Personal feelings aside, a name is a link between people, it gives us something to tag people with for remembrance and future reference. Numbers and statements are not names, and have nothing to do with roleplaying. I may appreciate your skillz at pwning teh n00bs, but since I'm asking you to help me so something, I hope you don’t turn into one of them on me.
2. Imaginary options. Trick choices. No real differences exist. Maybe some MMOs do have some that are real (I am sure I’ll get some listed in comments) but hopefully it will be different beyond “either mob A or B spawns, or you get a slightly different text response from the quest/reward giver with the same reward.” I know that making players think they have more options , choices, and control than they do is a trick of the trade, but the lack of ANY beyond rolling either Alliance or Horde, Luxon/Kurz(only guild/AvA differences) seems rather weak to me.
3. Same endings. Mostly covered in last point, there are no pluses or minuses for doing something one way, or another. There might be an option to, but the only difference is the 5 minutes you take to do it. No alignment or reputation changes, no different skills, no lost/gained quest (strings), no new enemies/allies gained, no difference.
4. Games like rl? LOL! A touchy subject to some: the existence of consequences. While some “winning doesn’t matter” blah blah blahs try to keep us from “getting hurt” by what is actually the (dreaded) real world, it is a must. What is the point of having monsters if they can’t kill you? Sure, they might keep you under your covers, but it is either all or nothing. Sorry, dying hurts, and sucking at games does too. Serious (hardxcore?) gamers should not have to cater to people who want to be able to suck at a game and still pass. Getting good takes time, practice and learning. And help for others goes a long way (this is the part when all the lee7ists agreeing with me bow their heads in shame). When I don’t do well, guess what, I should not be rewarded, why else would it matter when I do good (you bloody communist!), and why should I even try? If nothing else, I want my friggin’ banana sticker!!! (aka trophy/points)
I know a lot of people don’t like roleplaying and will mock me, but that is where we get our roots for this genre and they are still called MMORPGs. Bioware claims to be able to revolutionize this with The Old Republic, and I hold a lot of respect for them and their work, but that is a huge claim. Even if they pull off an amazing story, how much ACTUAL freedom will they allow for? How much real online roleplaying? I am not really calling for “acting out character dialogue” though, but rather the ability to create a character that I can develop over time in ways beyond combat (and perhaps crafting) alone. The only roles I see acted out are those of class, and even that is often rather poorly done. I’m not even necessarily calling for a “Sir Xodius, please grand Lord Jethor thine ears, for he wishes to parley!” type of gameplay, it would just be nice to be able to interact with people on an in-game created world with a game-made character to work together as a team in this world as if we were in said world, not my living room and your parent’s basement. Or grandparents. Or your own.
Basically have fun in WoW, I’ll be waiting for Dragon Age where my actions actually matter.