So it looks like I may be turning this into a regular weekly thing.
Because I am hardcore about being a geek like that. Plus I like finding out about which games are already doing ideas similar to mine.
First and most basic thing: Universal Friends List. If you ever wind up making an second character, it can be a huge pain in the ass to have to re-enter all of your friends into a new list. City of Heroes has already done this, so there really isn’t an excuse for every new game that comes out to not include this.
Ditto for the ignore list. The idiot RoxUrSoxor, who is filling the newbie chat full of Chuck Norris jokes didn’t get any more interesting just because you decided to switch characters. In fact you should be able to select the guy, and put his whole guild on ignore with one or two button clicks. Because if there’s one thing you know, its that no one who would admit him to a guild has anything to say that’s worth listening to.
To avoid any problems from these universal lists, give the players the ability to “Opt Out”. Maybe a player has a character that they don’t want everyone to know about. Along those lines, perhaps a player just wants to play without his friends for a while. So make “Lurk Mode” an option. That way if you don’t want to hang out it tells all of your friends that you are offline.
Another related idea is an enemies list. Every game on the market provided options to keep track of all of your buddies. But so far I haven’t seen any that help you to keep track of all of the people who have ticked you off. To prevent this from being used as a tool for griefing it shouldn’t show certain details, like their location or even whether or not they are online. But the characters could be marked with an icon to help remind you that this is a player who has annoyed you in the past. This has the potential to actually be combined with the PVP mechanics to make a whole “blood-debt” system.
Yet another idea that I haven’t seen yet is Character Notes. The ability to basically make a little in-game post-it note and attach it to another player. Not physically in game, but just an icon, visible only to you, that showed that you had some notes written down about that player. Maybe another player was gracious about settling a dispute. Or maybe he sprinted past you to steal your treasure chest. Either way, now you can check your notes on how he acted in the past. I predict this turning into a great big pile of fun when combined with the enemies list.
Another problem area is quest tracking. Every one of these games has a either a journal or a log to track what quests you have available, and what your current progress is. And some of them even let you see if any of your teammates are on the same quest. But most don’t let you track your friends progress on their quests. I think you should actually be able to open up the quest log of any of your member of your team, right next to your own. This will make it far easier to keep everybody organized. Also, I think the whole “quest sharing” feature that many games already have should be mostly automatic. If you’re in a party with a guy who’s going to get a magic sword for rescuing a princess, then the king should just pass out blades to everyone at the end of the adventure.
One feature I have seen under-used is side-kicking. CoH did it first, Age of Conan has it now (they call it mentoring) but for the most part I haven’t seen any other games adapt it. I have no idea why not. The whole point of an MMO is that you are playing it with other people online. And unless all of your friends have exactly the same amount of free time, discrepancies in levels will develop. Anything that will allow players to overcome this sort of obstacle is a good idea. And since this feature has already been used in a well-known game, its kind of stupid that everyone doesn’t have it.
And the last idea I’m going to jot down tonight is my way of dealing with spammers. Especially the guys that sit there and send private messages to every person on the server, trying to drum up business for their slave labor gold farm. One relatively simple way is to charge in-game money for sending tells out to people who have not friended you. Losing 2 copper coins to send some random guy a private message about his cool armor would probably be inconsequential to you. But if you are trying to send out 1000+ messages an hour about your awsome power leveling service, your character mights start running low on funds. I’m pretty sure that Eve Online is doing this one already.
But to take this idea to its logical conclusion, make a simple addition to the end-user agreement. If a player advertises out-of-game commercial services, then the game company will charge that player $100 per infraction. Plus their computer should explode. But I’m not sure how to do that last part.