Thursday, September 6, 2012

Features All MMO's Should Have - Sidekicking from City of Heroes

Before I begin, I'd like to say I whole-hardheartedly  support the groups trying to save City of Heroes. I don't know if they can do it, and I'm not keeping my hopes up, but this would lift the spirits of many of the people who are down because of the game closing. I truly feel like we aren't losing a game, we are losing a home.

With that, I will begin another series, entitled "Features All MMO's Should Have". These are features that I believe all MMO's should launch with or at least make a priority during their development. Innovations comes in leaps and bounds in this industry, as we all may be aware of the huge contrast in playstyles between Guild Wars 2 and Mists of Pandaria. Similar, yes, but a vastly different experience. Therefore, I feel there are certain features that most of the industry should have by now, but for some reason they don't.

The first of these is the Sidekicking system found in both City of Heroes and Guild Wars 2. GW2 uses it in a more seamless fashion, but both titles will do just fine as an example. This system is meant to address a major flaw in the leveling system, and that is its nature to keep people from playing together.

This story may elaborate my point. My first experience with WoW was during Burning Crusade, where myself and a friend leveled up a Rogue and Hunter together. We played largely during the same times, so keeping together was never really a problem. We stayed roughly the same level. However, as the school year switched into a new semester, our availabilities shifted with them. Suddenly I was able to play much less than he was.

Due to this, his new Paladin got far ahead of my new Mage, and I ended up abandoning the character. Why bother when my partner was level 49 and I was 25? It was too far of a gap to cross. I couldn't do his content and doing my content was a waste of time for him. Our other options would be to force each other to only play those characters while we were playing together, which only served to restrain us, or for me to play catch up with his character alone while he didn't have time to play. I played those character to play with him, not to go around by myself.

The sidekicking system allows higher level players to play and receive reasonable rewards for content lower than them. This allows players to level at their own pace, and no matter what level you are you can find something to do with your friend. Furthermore, it expands the content a single player can do. If you have multiple areas with the same level range, one player can do all of them without having to worry about slowing down their progression. They don't have to worry about the most efficient way to do things, only the best way to have fun.

Online games shouldn't have to be about level anymore. They should be about playing with your friends and having fun. It's about time all games provide that.

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