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There seems to be a fashion for slating new games with an accusation that they aren’t “different” or “innovative” without any further detail. Usually by the same people who also demand that they game add some feature that is just like one in WoW (or possibly Darkfall…)

The problem is though that “innovative” isn’t enough. “Innovative” just means something that hasn’t been done before in an MMO. There’s an infinite set of things that haven’t been done before in an MMO, in most cases for a good reason. Any suggestions for “different” and “innovative” are going to fall into one of five categories:

1) There are, in fact, games out there already doing this.
2) It’s been tried at least once before and was not a great success – so much so that designers have learned not to do it again.
3) A moment’s sober reflection will reveal why this is such a jaw-droppingly stupid idea that nobody would ever implement it
4) Nice idea on paper, but not technically possible or cost-effective to implement
5) Congratulations, you’ve actually had a decent idea that nobody else has thought of!

In this context, a successful feature is one that adds to the playing experience. It’s a feature that players like, makes the game more fun and boosts retention. If a feature is either ignored by players or universally disliked (tip: you need a better way of judging this than reading forum posts) it is not a success. A successful feature is not the same thing as a successful game. WAR has a couple of successful features (public quests, public grouping) that other games have picked up on, even though WAR overall hasn’t done especially well. WoW has been pretty successful as a game, some of the features it introduced (e.g. the original grind-based PvP rank system) less so.

Likewise, to be clear – Stupid doesn’t mean outdated. Stupid is defined as something that a moment’s thought would show it would not be a success… usually because that moment’s thought should be “Is there a way that ******s can use this feature to grief other players?” A lot of player suggestions on forums fail this test… I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether the person making the suggestion hasn’t thought the consequences through, or if they have done and are looking forward to doing the griefing themselves!

Here’s a challenge back – tell us what you’re looking for. What is it that all current MMOs don’t have that you think the devs should have put in there? Are there category 2 ideas that could be made to work? Category 4 ideas where the tech is catching up? Ort do you have that rare gem, the category 5 idea?

Plenty of successes out there – instanced battlegrounds seem to have caught on for example, and most LotRO players reckon adding the cosmetic appearance tabs was a success.

Unsuccessful – integrated voice chat. Several games launched with it, WoW added it, nobody used it as they prefer their own TS or Vent servers. Newer games don’t seem to bother with it.

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