Category Archives: MMO Game Design

Comparing ESO and TSW’s Build Systems

Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World are games with a lot in common. They’re both highly story-driven and solo-friendly. And they both have highly flexible build systems that give you great freedom in how to construct your character.

But which system is superior? Let’s break it down.

Combat in Elder Scrolls Online

How they work:

The Secret World has a pretty unusual take on character progression. There are no classes at all, and every character has access to all 500+ abilities in the game, organized in a complex menu called the ability wheel.

The ability wheel is divided into sections based on the game’s nine weapon types, as well as three small miscellaneous skill lines roughly… Continue reading


Why MMO Holidays Suck and How to Fix Them

Around this time of year, holiday events are springing up in MMORPGs like desperate last-minute shoppers at the local mall. Rare indeed is the game that doesn’t throw together an in-game event to coincide with the winter holidays.

A snowglobe in World of Warcraft's Winter Veil holiday event.

Of course, Christmas isn’t the only real world holiday MMOs like to jump on. Most will also throw something together for Halloween, and depending on the game, you might also see events for Valentine’s Day, Easter, or any number of noteworthy occasions.

Unfortunately, there’s one common thread that runs through nearly every holiday event in nearly every MMO: They’re pretty lame. What should be joyous times for the players to come… Continue reading


China Leads Charge to Fix MMO Gambling’s Biggest Problem

eso storm atronach gambling mounts

A totally sweet storm atronach mount can be yours…maybe!

Last week, Elder Scrolls Online launched their latest cash shop additions. The store now sells some pretty sweet storm atronach mounts, along with equally cool new skins. Unfortunately, gambling is the only way acquire these new collectibles. Alongside these items, Zenimax Online Studios has “welcomed” gambling crates to ESO.

As Deltia’s Gaming shows, the gambling crates aren’t a great value. Each crate costs $3.33 – $4 (depending on how many are purchased). Deltia purchased 45 crates, worth about $150. How many of these rare mounts did he receive for supporting gambling? Zero. Zilch. Nada. But that’s OK (or should be) because… Continue reading


What The Secret World’s Rider has to Teach Us About Social Design

A few weeks ago The Secret World held its traditional and much-lauded Halloween event. The new additions for this year broke with tradition a bit by offering an event that was more community driven, instead of the solo-focused stories we’ve gotten in most years.

A group of worshippers during the Rider event in The Secret World.

The new Rider event required cooperation from the entire community — or at least a large section of it — and it was really quite unlike anything I’ve experienced in an MMO before. It got me thinking about the nature of social play in MMOs, and organic versus forced socialization.

A rider approaches:

First, let’s explain a bit about the event… Continue reading


Does RMT Have a Place in MMOs?

RMT. Real money trading. The nasty three letter acronym associated with gold farming, pay to win, and bots. It’s existed in MMOs for the better part of two decades, back when Ultima Online gold traded at higher exchange rates (200 gold to $1 USD) than the Italian Lira, Hungarian Forint, Indonesian Rupiah, Vietnamese Dong, Colombian Peso, and several other real world countries (250 to 14,000 units to $1 USD). This was in era where all real money trading took place on eBay (sometimes facilitated by company employees), before more specialized shops opened their doors.

ultima online gold pile

People will kill to become a Colombian millionaire.

Eventually, massive inflation sets in because wolves… Continue reading


A Dark Souls MMO: Glowing Incandescently

Dark Souls MMO coop via DS3 image

No, I’m not announcing a Dark Souls MMO, but the popular series has all the makings to deliver one. It’s hard for me not to dream about it when both the series and genre are so dear to me. Sure, the group sizes aren’t very large, but the game already feels interactive on a broad scale. Players can view messages left from hundreds of thousands of players. Covenants represent play types from cooperative to self challenging to murderous. All walks of life can be found in the multiplayer arena that is Dark Souls. In fact, I’d almost argue that Demon’s Souls, the precursor to Dark Souls, qualified. The World Tendency provided a persistent… Continue reading