MMO Controls

Recently on Tactical Gamer I got into a discussion about MMO Controls.  My initial point was that MMO controls generally tend around the action-bar with cool downs because, while not ideal, is so close to ideal for the genre that it is progressively harder to improve upon.  I believe I said lamenting that MMOs use that control scheme is like lamenting that first person shooters use the mouse to look at WASD for movement.

The person with whom I was having this discussion pointed out that MMO’s could adopt FPS controls as combat systems were universal, pointing to Planetside, Tabula Rasa and Champion’s Online as examples of reticule targeting and that there was no need for tab-targeting any longer.  In my rebuttal to that argument I wrote the following.

Let me explain it this way.  I met my wife online in an MMORPG.  Seriously.  We met, well introduced by her then-boyfriend, actually :O, in Asheron’s Call back in 2000 or so.  Since then we have played Asheron’s Call, Shadowbane, Horizons, City of Heroes, Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, World of Warcraft and now Runes of Magic together.  Now, I’ve played about three times more MMOs than she has (no joke, I am an MMO whore) but notice which three aren’t on that list that are mentioned in this topic?  Planetside and World War II Online and Tabula Rasa (all three I have played).

How many FPSes has she ever played?  0.  How many will she ever play?  0.  How many action RPGs has she played (in the time I’ve lived with her), 1.  Jade Empire and I’m not sure if that is what you mean by Action RPG.  Ok, 1.5, we did get into Dungeon Siege 1 for a short time but that was more a miss than a hit.

While you are striving for more FPS like controls, she is not and I’m content with having my FPS over <—– there while my MMO is over —–> yonder.  Simply put, there are more of her who don’t like that scheme and more of me who don’t care enough than there are of you.  Or, more specifically, more of people like her and people like me than people like you.  That’s not to say that different things can’t be tried; Y!PP is a great example of a non-standard MMO which still appeals to a large base of the MMO population.  But to look at all combat as universal is to miss the point that the audience itself is not universal and a good portion of that audience is playing precisely because it’s not FPS controls.

This topic had come up previously over on MMORPG and I hadn’t thought then in terms of the fact that there are players who are drawn to that control style because emulating the control style of other games simply doesn’t suit their play.


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