I’ve played too many MMORPGs. This is an unassailable fact. I don’t know the exact number that constitutes “too many,” but whatever it might be I am assuredly over that number. I think the term “most” would be used if asked “How many have you played?”
I don’t play any now for a variety of reasons. Even if the perfect (for me; I understand that this is very subjective) one came along I’m not entirely sure I would have the time for it. That might be a good thing, to be honest. My life certainly feels more open without the pressure to play a game I potentially pay a monthly subscription for.
Anyways, there’s a lot of bullshit most of this genre is guilty of, and I’d like to take multiple moments to bitch about said bullshit. It will likely fall on deaf ears (or no ears, as it were), but it’ll at least make me feel better to some degree. At least I’m writing (er, typing) again.
So: Bullshit Thing #1: crafting.
Crafting is something that some degree of attention is paid to in most RPGs. Crafting is universally bad. I have not found a single crafting system engaging, fun, or worthwhile. Yes, I used an Oxford comma. I will not apologize.
What’s fascinating about crafting, however, is that game companies find new and hilarious methods on making crafting terrible. It almost boggles the mind; if we as a race were as good at space travel as game companies are at making terrible crafting systems, I would be typing this from Jupiter’s third moon whilst eating a space cheeseburger. I don’t know what a space cheeseburger is but it sure sounds delicious.
Let’s go over some of these shitty, shitty systems:
The disease of “not fucking worth it”: I have seen some crafting systems be engaging and even a little fun; and then they’re invariably ruined by the fact that nothing that’s crafted is truly worthwhile. Either the gear is sorely underpowered compared to other modes of item procurement, or the requirements to create good items are gotten from the same place where other good items come from. This is dumb. Crafting should yield unique, good-in-their-own-right items that can be procured without dungeon-running or even any combat prowess. Too often crafting is used as just another (and invariably more irritating) path from A to B. The path should go to C.
The plague of “HOW DOES THIS FUCKING WORK”: Some crafting systems manage to have unique yields, but are then sadly inundated with some sort of flowchart singularity that makes people’s brains hurt more than trigonometry. Somebody probably thought this was “realistic” or “rewardingly complex,” when in reality those are just buzz words for “over-complicated” and “not fun at all.” If we wanted “realistic” we would go buy a pickaxe and become the salt of the earth ourselves.
The numbing pain of “here’s a crafting system, now fuck off”: Sometimes there’s nothing rewarding. Sometimes the crafting system in a game is just there, tacked onto the wall like an employee’s rights bulletin required by state law. Sometimes it’s clear that developers just put in a crafting system for the sake of saying they have a crafting system. All of the time, this is lazy and poopy.
On top of the above issues, there’s also the argument that a combat-oriented character (re: 90-100% of players) have no business possessing crafting skills. Real-life blacksmiths dedicate their entire lives to their craft. Some adventurer just having blacksmithing as a fucking hobby shouldn’t be capable of creating Sword of Anal Bleeding +5 in their spare time between cave-sniffing. Want realism? Don’t craft at all, honestly.
So, in the end, I just wish MMORPGs would just not have crafting. The closest thing to a quality crafting system was in games that had more open-ended character development, where a character could subsist and survive purely on gathering and crafting alone. Ultima Online was sort of close, but their crafting system devolved in endlessly rolling dice, essentially (for also what was often “not good enough” compared to loot or artifacts). Some other games have struck chords that could be woven into a melody of a good crafting system, but fell short in other critical areas.
Some of you might be thinking “well then just don’t fucking craft then.” Well, I’m a bit of a completionist, which makes me anal-retentive in having all the skills. Luckily, I don’t play any MMORPGs right now so I don’t have to worry.
Final statement: Engineering in World of Warcraft is cool. I’ll admit that.