Requirements, Restrictions, Read my lips

Today, just briefly.

You want meaningful choices in your MMOs?
Then you have to accept that the game will come with requirements and restrictions.
It will have hard caps and benchmarks, it will have overall lower accessibility and bigger punishment. To some extent. Choices have no meaning when anything goes, no matter what the variety in choice is before you. If everything is flexible, your choices matter shit and it ain’t even their fault.

You want memorable content?
Then you have to accept that the game will come with requirements and restrictions.
Content feels less generic if it appears to be more unique – to state the obvious. How can it feel unique? For example by being unexpected, random, less obvious, limited, exclusive, not easily accessible, especially taxing or God forbid, almost out of reach. Oh, you don’t want to miss anything and you don’t want to deal with random or taxing? Then don’t expect anything to stand out in your memory. It doesn’t work that way.

You want rewards to be epic?
Then you have to accept that the game will come with requirements and restrictions.
An epic reward is the opposite of easy and numerous. If you want items to be special, expect them not to be a dime a dozen. Expect to work long and hard. Expect to miss out because you cannot always own everything that is special out there. If you did, it means everybody else does too and we both know you don’t want that.

…You want everything always with everybody?
Then you have to accept that the game will come with requirements and restrictions.
You can’t have any of the things mentioned above. But hey, at least you got everything always with everybody, right?

Balance, such a beautiful thing. Almost we forgot that everything comes at a price.


  1. And if we just want to dick around with friends? Hm.

    Oh right, if we just want to hang out and don’t care about the reward of it, maybe no rewards are needed.

    Funny how that all works out.

    I’m trying to say I agree with you more than you do.

  2. @ironyca
    It had to be said! =D


    That is impossible!

    Right…being with friends is a reward in itself. 😛 /cough
    how very…altruistic.

    the thing is, I have it easy here. I never mentioned it in my recent articles, but I have not actually ever been in such a dilemma. I have always played with people on my own level, with the same outlook as myself (in fact I wonder if I can even make friends with anyone else…is that very horrible of me?). so no game-enforced separation, problem solved.

    that’s not to say of course, that I would not welcome more variety around me, I do. but if I have to choose, I go for the MMO that suits me – and I’ve always known which one that is. I’m a realist – but I have my idealist days. 😉 just because it’s good for me doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better for others.

  3. I honestly feel that this deserves a more in-depth look. I understand the tone of today’s post was preaching from the pulpit, but I think each of those topics could be a post where you look at precisely what people seem to want and the kinds of requirements and restrictions those desires would entail. Nice post!

  4. As to choice, meaningful content, etc. – one of the best quotes I’ve ever read is from Gandhi. It goes like this:

    “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”

    Tweak that a bit for an MMO, and it would read like this:

    “Choices are not worth having if they do not include the option to make mistakes.”

    The problem with MMOs, which is also the problem of practically every game today, not just our genre – is that players are not allowed to make mistakes.

    It took me weeks of effort, frustration, and tears to beat Pitfall on an Atari 2600.

    15 years later and a blindfolded hatwit with only 2 fingers and a missing hand could beat WOW.


  5. “You want something, and your mind is set, but your (MMO)Momma says *I want, shouldn’t get*”

    I’ve often thought games might be a bit better if developers ignored players 😛

  6. @stubborn

    Thanks! they’re definitely topics worth looking into further. I have already done this in a couple of older posts or then linked to other bloggers, although it would certainly be worth giving a summary a shot sometime! 🙂
    for me, in the end it all comes down to some of the great paradoxicals in life: “less is more”. the issue in itself is a much bigger topic, all around us, far from just concerning MMO design. but people only ever learn in retrospective (and many still have not).


    A wonderful quote indeed (but then who’s surprised). the problem you mention is not even just in all games, but a general mindset of a spoiled society with an ever decreasing “frustration level”. on top of it, we keep educating the next generation to not be able to handle frustration, obstacles or even failure either. I have been a teacher for a few years and frankly I am appalled at what’s currently going on in terms of the “super-parents” with over-achiever mindset, high demands and no willigness to accept no for an answer (which they all pass on to their children). it’s a destructive culture of self-entitlement and MMO communities are a mere mirror of that.

    There’s a reason why MMOs changed and I’ve no doubt that it comes down to player feedback. developers do whatever makes the game more popular. and “I want everything and not miss out on anything” is popular. failure is bad bad bad, patience is overrated. and since I am paying, I should get to dictate everything, right?

    Totally. Imo it’s their job to know what’s good for the game and the players, they’re the ones with all the info and the long-term perspective. I’m all for player feedback, but players are not developers; and while they might know what they want, they do not always know what’s good for them (or the game).

  7. The problem is… all will probably agree to those lines but for every one of them it means on a different level.

    That’s the problem. You have to find a solution to that, if you want to have your game appeal to the broadest possible audience.

  8. @Anon

    True, there’s room to interpret. if we could at least agree on that there’s is a definite need for “some” limitation, punishments etc. and that there needs to be such a thing as “missing out” to provide for balance. but I doubt that’s the case.

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