MMORPGs: does size matter?

Large Land MMORPG - Image 1A regular feature we see on MMORPG advertisements and expansions are promises of larger, expansive worlds. While it sound good when you first hear it, it poses an interesting question as well: is bigger automatically better? Do large tracts of land make a game better than its peers? That’s what we discuss in the full article, so pull up a chair and join in by clicking on the “read more” link below.

MMORPG - Image 1A lot of gamers were rather disappointed when EA Mythic announced that they were cutting four cities from Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in order to make the deadline. However, it makes one wonder if this was a good move on their part. In addition, it also opens up the age old question regarding MMORPGs: is bigger automatically better?

By bigger, we’re referring to larger maps and more cities to visit in MMORPGs. While a lot of people will probably have a knee jerk reaction to this and say “yes, it is” there are a couple of things we have to keep in mind.

If you’re a veteran of MMORPGs, I’d like you to recall the instances when you have to travel long distances in order to complete a quest. Now, this is great for gamers who actually enjoy exploring different regions in the game. However, even to this specific group of gamers, it can get old really fast especially if the landscape is pretty much the same all throughout without any notable landmarks. In this case, bigger is not better.

Another thing you might want to think about are the problems associated with having to kill various enemies over large empty spaces. Some MMORPGs are so massive that you will kill a mob and have to travel some distance to find the next one. If you’ve ever experienced that then you’ll probably be thinking, bigger is not better.

After these examples, it may be obvious that bigger is not always better. It only becomes better if the developers actually decide to fill in those large spaces with beautiful scenery to look at and things to do. Now, this in itself is no small task, but with the way MMORPGs have been evolving over the past few years, it should be possible.

Let’s take a look at the first example I mentioned. What if the journey to find and deliver the certain item you have took you through multiple locals, each with their own flavor? Any adventurer who undertook this quest will probably be enthralled by the images he sees. In addition, when doing  future quests, he can use the knowledge he picked up from this quest to help navigate through the maps!

The second example on the other hand can be fixed with some good old fashioned applications of game design elements. Just put in more mobs and it should fix the problem. Hey, while we’re at it, why not have these mobs going about their business in a realistic fashion like interacting with each other to make the world seem more alive. Sure it’s a stretch, but hey, I can dream can’t I?

So bigger is not always better, unless it is well-implemented. Yes, we MMORPG players want expansive worlds with huge areas to travel in, but if the developers are not going to be filling it with interesting content, then we’d rather have a smaller world with more condensed, well thought out content.

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