Friday, December 22, 2006

Too Much Killing (Can't We All Just Be Friends?)

Why is it that MMORPGs have players kill hundreds of the same creature, yet there always seems to be more of them? With thousands of players killing a few hundreds orcs each, you would think the orc population would go down eventually. Now, I don't have anything against killing a hundred rats, rabbits or goblins, those just breed so fast that a few millions kills more or less won't make a difference. But eventually, one gets the feeling they've killed the entire world's population a few times over.

Aside from having slow respawns, there is little game developers are capable of, or willing to do, to prevent the players from farming the same enemies over and over again. Now I'm not going to suggest having a survival system, where the more enemies are killed, the slower they spawn, although that could be a possibility. Instead, why not make each battle more worthwhile? Killing a creature twice your size shouldn't go down to dealing damage to it and hoping it dies before your healer runs out of mana. What about instead making each battle require player participation? It would help prevent boredom of farming, and, as an added bonus, would make it harder to create bots.

Imagine that, instead of killing a dozen orcs, and hoping one of them drops the axe he was clearly wielding, you kill one or two of them, and get pretty much everything they had. You really get a sense of accomplishment when you defeat an orc that opposed a challenge, instead of killing a hundred of them and healing when required.

It's the same thing with team fights. Why is it that you have to kill the same dragon a hundred times to get loot for everybody? Killing a creature as imposing as a dragon should be an accomplishment by itself, and reward the players accordingly. Dragons not only have hoards, from which players can acquire new, valuable equipment, but they also have gold and other valuables for those who didn't win the rolls. And, of course, dragons have scales. Not two or three scales, but hundreds of them. Of different quality depending on their position. And which will require time to extract from the dead body (Anyone got the Teleport Dead Dragon To HQ spell?). Not to mention that a good many parts of a dragon could be used as alchemical components, or that dragon meat could feed a guild for weeks.

With a more realistic body count, players would come to expect challenges at every corner. They wouldn't need a level display for the boss, since there is no real way to know if the enemy can be defeated. It would be a matter of which skill each opponent has, and how much; a matter of coming to the fight prepared, instead of hopping in and hoping they don't get too many adds; and, perhaps more importantly, a matter of each player being able to cooperate to the fight, no matter their strenght.

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