Being Aware of Genre Conventions

It is December of 2002, and Asheron’s Call 2 has been launched for a month. It is already clear that the game is not going to be a huge success, but I still want to work on it. I have pushed hard to get myself onto the AC2 Live Team (effectively giving myself a demotion from the more-prestigious Core Engineering team to do so). It is my first week on the newly-formed live team, and I am overhearing my boss, producer Ken Troop, talk on the phone to a friend.

Ken: “It’s just a more streamlined game. No, it still follows the important conventions of the genre. No, it…”

(other person talks for a while, Ken rubs his temples)

Ken: “No, you don’t have to buy arrows. But that doesn’t mean rangers have magical quivers… arrows are just abstracted away. Right… it’s just an abstraction. … No, not like that. I mean, you don’t have to sleep or use the bathroom either, right? And that’s not weird, right? That doesn’t mean you have magical bowels, we’ve just abstracted… right. Same with arrows.”

(other person talks for a while)

Ken: “No, there’s no encumbrance in AC2. That’s abstracted away too. It’s… no, seriously, listen, it’s not important. It’s just not. … Yes. Right. Nobody complains in EverQuest when tiny pixies drop 100 pound maces. They should have been over-encumbered, right? That’s… exactly! It’s the same thing! It’s an abstraction!”

This went on for a while. And I gotta tell you, I was completely on the side of the guy giving Ken a hard time. I asked myself why I was working on a game that didn’t even have encumbrance penalties.

I mean, I liked AC2, but I fervently wished it hadn’t done those cheesy “video gamey” abstractions. It made no sense to me that there weren’t arrows to buy. And the lack of encumbrance meant I could literally carry two or three house’s worth of furniture on my person and it didn’t slow me down at all. How stupid was that? I could really see the benefit of some of the other streamlining that AC2 did, but some of it just felt “cheesy.” And the quest NPCs had huge question marks over their heads? What the heck?! I knew many gaming friends who refused to play AC2 because of these sorts of cheesy, broken things.

A few years later, when WoW came out, we discovered that it had stolen all the best things from every MMO to date. What did it take from AC2? NPCs with question marks over their heads, for one. (Though they improved that concept about a million times beyond what AC2 had done, to be clear.) Their inventory system also lacked encumbrance, just like AC2′s did… even though all the other big players at the time, like Dark Age of Camelot, had intricate encumbrance systems. But one thing they didn’t take from AC2 was abstracted ammunition. You still had to buy arrows. And that was probably a good call, because that was still too taboo.

To modern WoW players this probably seems ridiculous. In fact, I understand the WoW live team is working to remove ammunition from the game, abstracting it away, because it causes them balancing headaches at very high level. Nobody seems to be screaming that doing so will kill verisimilitude. Anymore.

So when did this change, and why? If you’ve been around MMOs for a decade or more, your first thought may be that “games are just too easy now.” But that’s not really relevant at all. Having to buy arrows wasn’t about making the game harder — it was about meeting genre expectations.

Genre Conventions Are The Key

Back when EverQuest 1 launched, they also implemented restrictions on ammunition, harsh encumbrance penalties, and so on. At nighttime in the game, the whole screen turned dark. It got so dark that your screen would literally be pitch black unless you had a torch or night-vision. Sounds like EQ1 was trying to be a gritty, realistic game, right? Nah… they were mostly just parroting the expectations of the hardcore MUD culture at that time. Wherever MUD culture had a genre expectation, they followed it. But in any other area, EverQuest happily implemented crazy-ass designs and nobody batted an eye.

The EQ1 Bard is a great example. The bard could play three different songs at the same time, switching from song to song every few seconds, in order to keep the magical effects of all three songs going at once — such as a gentle melody to heal allies, a dramatic march to boost damage, and a discordant song that made monsters wince in pain. All played at once.  (Thank goodness bards didn’t create actual in-game music — talk about wincing in pain!) To stretch things even further, a bard could instead opt to make some melee attacks in lieu of a song or two, rapidly switching between foppish musician and deadly swordsman every four or five seconds. This was completely acceptable to players. This did not break our expectations of the genre. In short, we were cool with this.

On the other hand, we would not have been cool with an archer who didn’t have to count every arrow. Talk about overpowered! If an archer could just shoot his arrows all day without having to buy more!? Nevermind that archery wasn’t a particularly effective skill in early EverQuest 1 — infinite ammo still just couldn’t have been tolerated.

The difference is genre expectations.

WoW Sets New Genre Conventions

In the past, many conventions were quite established after decades of MUD play. Since EverQuest brought in a lot of MUDders, it was difficult to break those conventions. But WoW changed that a lot. WoW was intended to be enjoyed by the same MMO culture that was enjoying EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot, but it turned out that those players were dwarfed by the millions of new people that showed up to play WoW. Many of the old, well-established conventions were washed away in an instant, never to return. Now WoW itself has set many of the genre’s conventions.

For instance, quest-givers are always specially denoted now — you don’t have to just walk up to every single NPC in the universe and click them to see what they do anymore.

As another example, WoW created user-interface conventions in a field that previously had no set conventions. It’s now a given that if you drag an item from your inventory into the main GUI scene, you are attempting to destroy it, not drop it on the ground or wield it or whatever other random thing previous games did. And all modern MMOs need a compass that is also a mini-radar. All modern MMOs let you right-click to attack enemies (a user-interface pattern that was completely unheard of before WoW, by the way). And so on.

Unless you’re one of the few people who reminisces about EQ1′s first-person camera perspective, these WoW user-interface conventions are a good thing. In fact, most of WoW’s influence on the genre has been positive — more positive than they could have imagined.

Make no mistake, though: WoW did follow most of the subtle conventions of its time. It’s just that players who weren’t around a decade ago won’t even recognize them. For instance, I remember arguing vehemently about whether  AC2′s “fighter” classes should be able to use all melee weapons. Of course they should! This was the DikuMud norm, inherited straight from Dungeons and Dragons: your game had to have something that could pass as a “fighter” archetype, and he had to be able to wield spears, swords, maces, axes, daggers, you name it. If a fighter couldn’t eventually learn to wield all the traditional melee weapons, then the game was stupid and broken. WoW followed this convention with its Warrior, too, because otherwise WoW would have seemed stupid and broken to existing MMO players. But nowadays, if a new game comes out where only staff-warriors can use staves and only swordsmen can use swords, that’s completely acceptable.

Why did this change? In old games, useful weapons were hard to find, and when you found one it would have been randomly chosen from many different weapon categories. So you might literally be unable to find a useful weapon for many levels unless you could use many different types of weapons. Giving fighters access to many weapon categories was an important, well-understood class benefit. Rogues, who did more damage overall, couldn’t use as many kinds of weapons so they had a harder time finding equipment upgrades — this was part of class balance! Nowadays, MMO loot doesn’t work like that. The traditional D&D fighter has stopped being a genre requirement — and nobody cares anymore.

To its credit, WoW was definitely trying to diminish the genre conventions of its time. But it ultimately played it pretty conservatively. Blizzard couldn’t have imagined the effect they actually had on the genre: all these millions of new players never knew the old MUD conventions. They wiped much of the slate clean.

Are There Restrictive Conventions Left?

So are there genre conventions left? Oh yes. Plenty. A few random examples:

  • Game activities are mostly location-based. For instance, you have to go to an auction house to bid on items, which means you can’t be fighting monsters while you shop.
  • Players move at a relatively sedate and “realistic” speed. (In earlier games this wasn’t necessarily true; in Asheron’s Call 1, players with the right character configuration could run at about 35 mph, sustained forever. This would seem weird and stupid in a modern game.)
  • Attacks do not use real physics — you cannot sidestep a projectile; it either hits you or it doesn’t, and that’s determined before the arrow even enters the air.  (This is another thing that games experimented with earlier, but would feel weird now.)
  • You cannot tab-select creatures that are behind your character. You must manually orient your avatar towards whatever you’re attacking or you can’t attack it.
  • Players can trivially die by falling off of cliffs. It’s accepted that avatar movement is purely a player skill, not a character skill.

And tons more. The genre is still full of conventions… hell, you could argue that a genre is defined by its conventions; without them, it’s not even a genre.

However, these conventions aren’t nearly as mandatory as old conventions were. I’m not 100% sure why that is, but it’s true. Suppose you created a game where players could run at three times the speed WoW characters do. You’d probably get some gentle mocking. Reviewers would mention how “unrealistic” it was. But it wouldn’t ruin your game. The producer of your game probably wouldn’t have to defend this design choice to his friends, like Mr. Troop had to do about “abstracted” arrows. At worst, only a small percentage of hardcores would refuse to play over that… whereas in the past, most of the audience was the “hardcores”.

So these conventions are no longer a straitjacket — they’re mostly just expectations, not requirements.

Conventions Hamper Imagination

Nowadays, the bigger restriction imposed by these conventions is in limiting designer’s imagination, because they are too often taken for granted. When you design a fantasy MMO, you might not even spend a moment of time to consider whether it has auction houses or not: of course it does! (Even if it’s a sci-fi game, it still seems to have fixed locations where the auctioning takes place.) Now don’t get me wrong, there are good practical reasons to want to bring people together in city hubs. I don’t think we should throw out location-based activities on a whim. But if you’re a designer who implements auction houses without a strong understanding of why you’re doing it, then you’re just parroting, not designing.

Back in the day, AC1 let you run 35 mph because the engine couldn’t implement mounts. By contrast, when WoW made you walk really slowly, it was for the opposite reason: they had cool mounts and they needed the mounts’ faster movement-rates to be a tantalizing incentive. There are reasons for all the conventions, and many of the reasonings are still valid for most new games — but sometimes those reasons won’t apply to your specific game. And worse, there are plenty of conventions whose reasoning has been lost to the mists of time and doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore. Yet designers parrot them anyway.

Why can’t you tab-select things behind you, and have your character automatically rotate to face any enemy they attack? In other words, why should players ever have to see a “You are facing the wrong way!” error message? WoW implemented it the way they did because they were following a pre-existing genre convention set by EverQuest. But EverQuest was a first-person game. Having a first-person camera spin suddenly without your direct control will make you seasick fast. With WoW’s third-person camera, there’s much less reason for players to micro-manage which way their character faces — and unless it’s somehow fun in your game, you should consider removing it. (And yes, this has been done before: both AC1 and AC2 auto-turned your character to face your opponent, and it worked fine. But EverQuest was much more popular, so its system became the permanent genre convention, even though it was originally designed for first-person camera schemes!)

Similarly, game engineers have known how to let characters edge-slide along cliffs for at least fifteen years now… there’s no particular reason that players should be allowed to accidentally plummet to their doom because they pressed the arrow key a bit too long. Prior to EverQuest (a first-person-perspective game, remember), any MMO that let you trivially walk off a cliff to your death would have been considered pretty hardcore. Now even the most “casual” games have this “feature”. It’s kind of dumb and unnecessary.

If you feel anger rising in the back of your throat now, and have a strong urge to denounce these suggestions — “of course turning to face your opponent is necessary! It’s <insert hollow excuse here>”, then you are probably feeling exactly how I did about abstracted arrows in AC2. But resist your urge to defend the status quo… at least without doing some serious consideration and introspection first. People who choose to become MMO designers tend to be pretty hardcore, and the hardcore can have a hard time seeing beyond genre conventions. Game designers aren’t super scientific by our nature, but we can sure make up scientific-sounding reasons for why things are the way they are. If I had a buck for every MMO feature that was “required to ensure a plausible world feel” that is now missing from WoW, I’d have like… $20. Which isn’t a lot of money, but is a lot of examples.

I admit it: it’s hard to look beyond what you’ve always known and seriously consider other implementations. But this is an exciting time to make MMOs because, unlike 2002, if you find a better way to do something, most players will follow along. Very few, percentage-wise, will get hung up on the old way of doing things.

I’m serious. In this more enlightened era, your game won’t automatically fail because you let characters edge-slide along cliffs instead of plummeting to their doom. Designers are the reason these conventions remain in place now… not players.

Choose Your Conventions

So genre conventions still exist, but they’re just the default. If you have a good reason not to follow them, don’t follow them. You won’t get boycotted because you didn’t support right-click-to-attack, as long as your design is as good or better. Think carefully about what conventions you are following, and why. You no longer need to parrot conventions to keep some nerdy MUD players happy. Make great games instead.

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26 Responses to Being Aware of Genre Conventions

  1. Rodalpho says:

    FYI, everquest has had an “endless quiver” ability available to rangers (the only class that uses bows) since the second expansion pack was released.

  2. Eric says:

    That’s true… that’s when they “jumped the shark” with their AA system. :P But even then, it was quite a difficult achievement to obtain, and not the norm for players (who were still low-level overall).

  3. Rodalpho says:

    Googling around, it looks like took something like 20 AAs for the pre-reqs and the endless quiver AA itself cost like 9, which would definitely take a week or two to grind at max level when it was new content in 2000. It was obviously a very high priority ability for rangers.

    But anyway, the point is that even EQ1 didn’t feel ammunition was a necessary trope, and everquest remained VERY hardcore back in the velious days. They didn’t really start to relax the Vision until WoW came onto the scene.

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  5. Chris says:

    DDO has projectiles miss if they actually miss you. Similarly, they can be blocked by a shield, even by the shield of a person standing in the way and blocking them for you. The same is true of many projectile-like spells (though not all; you might be able to dodge a ray of acid streaking towards you, but not a spell that doesn’t have a “physical” particle). Similarly, your melee swing will hit whatever it actually hits, letting some mobs accidentally do a “Mr. President!” dive in front of another one you were actually targeting when you’re surrounded.

    Default run speed is pretty damn slow, though.

  6. Wolfshead says:

    Interesting that you’ve punctuated your article with phrases like “nobody seems to care anymore”. I disagree. I think a lot of people still care about realism. The problem is that the people who care such as myself are being drowned out by the pedestrians — the casual gamers. These people care little about the rules; they are just here to have a good time. That is what MMOs have been reduced to.

    Regarding the concept of realism, even fantasy worlds envisioned in literature, movies and MMOs have to obey consistent laws of physics and such. Of course for the purposes of gaming the eternal question is how much of that do you force on the player. In recent years we’ve seen the notion of convenience as one of the prime pillars of game design. Making life easier for players has become the order of the day. Is that really good game design or design that’s sole purpose is to attract subscribers?

    As the MMO industry slouches toward this utopia where every inconvenience has been removed all in the name of “fun”, at what point do we ask how much is enough? At what point does a total disregard for any kind of realism end up creating a world with little believability? When do stop burning the furniture to heat the house?

  7. Jeromai says:

    Well said. I keep running into this with solely WoW players, first and only MMO, and they cannot imagine anything outside the boundaries and conventions WoW set, by purposeful design or otherwise.

    The cure is, imo, to play lots and lots of games, including the niche ones that break genre (and thus some of the accepted conventions) or do stuff a little differently.

    Take cliffs. I am infamous for careening off cliffs and dying in whatever game allows that. I rode off a million cliffs and plummeted to my death in Age of Conan. Done a few in WoW, never played the EQ variants for long or I probably would have done that too. LOTRO too, though they offer the dubious safety of a stun if your fall is a certain minimum height.

    You’ll never fall off a cliff in Guild Wars. No Z axis whatsoever. And Aion was a massive blessing to me in terms of cliffs, because after you slipped off them, you hit spacebar and you -glided- down to safety in a beautiful spiral pattern… Of course, if you landed into aggressive elites, then it would be relative safety at best. ATITD, no falling off cliffs there either. City of Heroes, fall, no death at whatever height, you’re a superhero! But you might be reduced to 1 hp, just for the ol’ genre convention nod of being ‘weakened.’ Global Agenda equips your character with a jetpack to pull yourself out of any falls, unless you’re out of power, then you’re SOL. Lots of wonderful variations on falling.

  8. Matt says:

    I’ve been playing RPGs for about 15 years now, and I really don’t know where you’re coming from with half of these conventions. I’ve played maybe 2 games with encumberance, and I can name two upcoming MMORPGs where you can, and are strongly encouraged to, dodge projectiles, for example.

  9. Eric says:

    Matt – huh, what pre-WoW mmos did you play that didn’t have encumbrance? All the first-gen MMOs had it: Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online… of course, most *new* games don’t have encumbrance… that’s sort of the point of the article.

    I’m glad there are games that are going to have dodgeable projectiles, that’s cool. (You could share their names so I can look into them…) but do keep in mind that if they’re games following FPS conventions, that’s not a particularly useful example… the games I’ve seen (such as Planetside) are just swapping the traditional MMO conventions with FPS conventions. (They also tend to fail pretty spectacularly due to their lack of innovation… Planetside is pretty much a failure and it’s the most successful of them… but I digress.)

  10. Eric says:

    Wolfshead – While I sympathize, I think you’re confusing a lot of important concepts.

    You want more “realistic” games, like the ones where you can cast fireballs at giants and trolls, and then spend the loot in an economy that is mysteriously capable of thriving despite the continuous rampaging hordes of monsters outside? That’s not realism, that’s an arbitrary fiction you’ve chosen to call “realistic”. Players who haven’t experienced that particular brand of realism (and, in fact, who didn’t experience it FIRST before they had other models to compare it to) don’t consider that particularly immersive or realistic… just painful and punitive.

    The simple fact is that once you can get hit by dozens of sword-swings without getting limbs chopped off, or where you can summon the unliving to kill your enemies, details like whether you have to buy arrows or not are just not even going to enter into the picture of “realism”. What you’re wishing for is just “punitive”. That’s fine, and I’m sure there will eventually be new niche games that are very punitive. But it’s important not to think of those as being more “realistic”.

    It’s also worth noting that many of those old “realistic” touches make reappearances in various modern games, and may eventually become the norm again. For instance, being able to drop items on the ground, or having vendors that resell the items that were recently sold to them, or even being able to gank other peoples’ monsters (in certain kinds of games).

    On the other hand, “realism” where your super warrior has to wait three minutes between battles? Never going to come back into mainstream vogue.

  11. LXj says:

    > there’s no particular reason that players should be allowed to accidentally plummet to their doom because they pressed the arrow key a bit too long

    These days in WoW there are many “invisible walls” to prevent you from falling from bridges. For example, you can’t jump from a bridge in ICC. On the other hand, the fact that you can fall from Frozen Throne adds a lot to the Lich King encounter. You’re trapped on a small location (which will get even smaller in P2) which will get covered in bad stuff, and if you’re not accurate, you will fall down. Sometimes melee characters fall down when they are chasing valkyrs. Ofcourse making invisible walls around Frozen Throne would not trivialize the encounter, but that claustraphobic feel would be lost

  12. LXj says:

    Actually WoW used jumping from cliffs in instances since Maraudon. And in TBC you could get thrown away from a particular bridge by a knock back in one instance if you’re not accurate with your positioning

    (and of course alliance raid trying to enter Thunder Bluff + knockback spell = dead raid)

  13. Akjosch says:

    As far as your conventions which every new game has to follow (and WoW pioneered, in part), they aren’t nearly as absolute. For example, FFXIV breaks the following:

    * NPCs with quests have no quest markers on them. If you want to find out where to go and what to do next, you have to read the quest text (though there is a helpful feature which shows you the next NPC to talk to on the map, if there is such NPC).

    * Right-clicking with your mouse does nothing that I could discern. Holding the right mouse button down and moving the mouse rotates your character along with the camera (you can rotate [i]just[/i] the camera with the IJKL buttons, or with the right-side cross of your game pad).

    You can also select enemies around you, not just in front of you, and your character turns to them automatically if they are in range of their weapons.

  14. JeremyT says:

    A lot of what you point out here makes sense, but I think you overstate players’ attachment to certain elements. Would players really have been disappointed if EQ had faster travel, infinite arrows, or no encumbrance? I’m not so sure; consider that any in-game items or abilities that made these aspects less penal were extremely sought after.

    One curious thing to me is that MMO conventions originate more strongly from MUDs than from single player or small party RPGs. EQ didn’t have to fill in all the blanks with Diku, they could’ve filled some of them in with Diablo or Baldur’s Gate instead; would players have really been resistant to such a game?

  15. DJLennon says:

    Ah, I remember those days well.

    Great piece, Eric. I completely agree that navigating around genre conventions, and knowing if/when they can/should be broken, is a primary challenge facing current developers. It certainly makes for interesting work!

  16. Ken Troop says:

    Hi Eric! (And I see Dave Lennon right above, hi Dave!)

    I don’t remember ever having that specific conversation, but then again, memory fails at my advanced age.

    FWIW, I specifically disliked the lack of arrows in AC2. I even wrote a lengthy post at one point seven years ago about it. That post is included below.

    (Also a disclaimer: I didn’t design AC2 nor work on the game leading up to ship…I was the Live team producer for AC2, working on supporting and growing the game post-launch)

    I think your analysis is spot-on, and even better than mine from seven years ago…it’s less about realism (which is what I was focused on back then), and more about genre conventions.

    In fact your analysis explains why, even though generally I’m not a huge fan of realism in my gaming experiences, some shortcuts seem ok, and some seem “off”.

    Anyway, my old post follows…hope all is well!

    Ken

    “2/7/2003 —
    Subject: Reality

    As a designer, I’m a big fan of emphasizing game over world, fun over realism. And yet…

    I’m wondering if, especially in AC2, we didn’t appreciate how adhering to reality, or even a close approximation of reality, helps create gameplay.

    If we model our games to follow some type of external/internal reality, then appropriate gameplay challenges come immediately to mind: e.g. archers have to replenish arrows — it’s a fairly simple example, and yet the near complete absence of such “reality-based” tasks in AC2 have, imo, created a number of voids in the gameplay, which unfortunately combat and crafting and KvK have not really filled.

    Of course, as a company coming from the AC1 experience, I can appreciate some of the lessons we learned there: eliminate tedium, don’t sacrifice fun for the sake of some system’s internal rigorous logic, etc. And it very well could be that had AC2 more of these “reality-based” tasks, some percentage of players would just be complaining about those, instead of complaining about the lack of a variety of different activities to do in the game.

    But I think there must be a way to chart a more “middle of the road” course…where we use the limitations of reality to drive challenging and stimulating gameplay dynamics, and where at the very least we try to make sure that we establish a foundation of “game reality” to justify all the different systems and features we put in the game.

    I used to think this was only nominally important…however, one of the lessons of AC2 for me is that the type of audience who is willing to spend significant amounts of time (and money) in a gaming subscription service strongly desire as much immersion and escapism as we can provide. And having strong internal consistency/reality is one of the keys to creating that immersive atmosphere.”

  17. Neofit says:

    “And the quest NPCs had huge question marks over their heads?”

    Are you sure? It’s been a long time and I am getting old, but from what I remember from the AC2 pre-release spiel and my first month in the game at release, NPCs, and with question marks to boot, were also abstracted. I remember taking missions from stone figures, and the world feeling rather empty without the usual civilian NPC life.

    Was it AC2 or am I again confusing it with another game – didn’t it also go against another genre convention: no banks? (the reason for the removal of Encumbrance?)

  18. Sean says:

    Akjosch brings up an interesting point with the mention of FFXIV, I believe the controls were similar in FFXI as well. Now, Eric was discussing conventions so no, not EVERY game has to follow these, but there may be a reason why FFXIV doesn’t have similar controls. The most obvious might have to do with the fact that FFXI and FFXIV were planned to be released on the playstation consoles as well as on PC, so the idea of right click to attack may not work as well when you don’t have a mouse (also seen in the other UI designs for the game which really make tabbing through targets and ignoring the mouse, a prime way to get around and fight). So with that in mind it sounds like they designed their game well, hell, they didn’t mimic a right click to attack system in a game which won’t always have a mouse. Isn’t that type of design over parroting exactly what was discussed?

    Also, are there many quests in FFXIV? I don’t remember many in the previous grind-fest also known as FFXI. So if quests aren’t a large part of the game, why draw attention to people involved in them? I think (can anyone correct me) RO was a similar way?

  19. Vahkris says:

    In addition to DDO, Guild Wars 2 will allow you to dodge projectiles. In fact, double-tapping in any direction will execute a dodge-roll, allowing you to move away from powerful melee attacks as well.

  20. Eric says:

    Ken Troop: Hey! Thanks for the info! Thinking back on it, I suspect I overheard you having a conversation with either someone at Microsoft or someone from an AC1 fan site. I knew you weren’t a fan of several “abstractions”, though I didn’t know you disliked the lack of arrows specifically.

    And I do apologize for not making it more clear that you were the live producer, not the development producer, of AC2.

  21. Eric says:

    Neofit: I took a small liberty with the timeline in my post. When AC2 launched, it had no humanoid quest-giver NPCs at all; this wasn’t about “abstraction”, it was just due to the tragically premature launch of the game, and also because of a strange and silly fight with the game’s publisher, Microsoft.

    The humanoid NPCs (with question-marks over their heads) came in the first game update, which happened several months later (a month after the phone call in this article took place).

  22. Ross Smith says:

    It’s not just a new thing in Guild Wars 2 – GW1 already has projectiles you can dodge if you notice them in flight and are quick off the mark (arrows, spears, some spells such as fireballs), and allows you to tab select enemies in any direction, with your character (and the camera) automatically turning to face them. (It also doesn’t allow you to fall off cliffs because the world is full of invisible fences, but this is widely considered a Bad Thing and seems likely to be changed in GW2.)

  23. Wolfshead says:

    There has to be sufficient realism or at least the illusion of realism or you risk having no point or reference for the MMO player. Without that foundation, there is less water in the well to compensate for the incongruity of fireball spells and warriors that can run into horde of mobs and survive without a scratch.

    MMOs can only work if there is enough foundational realism which helps the player buy into the world. For example if we removed the laws of gravity and everyone just floated around that would probably be such a glaring omission that it would render that virtual world almost unbelievable with regard to immersion.

    Of course there are minor facets of realism that would be ridiculous to include in a MMO and such as requiring players relive themselves of bodily functions (although WoW does have numerous outhouses).

    In the end, it’s a balancing act. Add too much realism and then you end up having a stale human simulator. Remove too much realism then you have a world that people can’t relate to. At this point this is where game design become an art form.

  24. fqubed says:

    As for other things that were horrible to the game, but part of it in EQ era:

    - Meditating to regenerate mana, you had to open your spellbook and stare at it.
    - Researching new spells, with a high cost and chance of failure.
    - Mobs not having a “leach”, they would chase you until you got to the end of the zone.
    - Factions that can hate you for all of the eternity of the game.

    These amongst many more things were “real” or following set standards, but didn’t do anything for the game. Spot on reply on the realism.

  25. Dblade says:

    It makes a lot of sense to me not to have arrows to buy. I used to play a ranger in FFXI and I had to carry thousands of the damn things. They had to make stacks of 99 quiverable, which meant you could stack a stack! Crossbow rangers had to carry about 3-6 different types of them. In addition to the gun and longbow I carried, and needed ammo for that.

    Unemptiable quiver versus carrying an entire arrow store.

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