Most battles in MMOs are not fun.
I ride my goat in Moria. I get hit off of it by a goblin throwing spears. The goblin has absolutely no hope of killing me. By the time it’s dead, I’ll still have 90% of my health. When it’s dead, I will receive no sense of accomplishment. The only thing I feel is annoyance at being knocked off my mount.
It reminds me of those random battles they used to have in single-player RPGs. Remember those? The enemies there usually had no chance of killing you either. You could just choose “attack” from the menue multiple times until the enemy was dead. Some RPGs even gave you the ability to automate your characters so that you wouldn’t have to be bothered with actually playing the boring fights. Others had items that allowed you to avoid random battles, or vehicles that allowed you to skip random battles on the over-map.
The question comes up, why even force the player to have boring fights at all? Thankfully in most MMOs you can expect the grey-con mobs to stop attacking you automatically. But lets be honest, any npc at your level or below is going to die easily unless it has friends. Without a chance for me to fail this battle, I’m bored as hell.
In games like Guitar Hero I can enjoy playing a song I’ve already played to see if I can do it with less mistakes. Or I can play a fighting game to see how many people I can beat in survival mode, or how well I can combo my opponent. But those are twitch based games.
MMOs usually have me hitting the number 1 on my keyboard, waiting, and then pressing the number two. I might tap six or seven keys on my keyboard in the time I would have tapped dozens of buttons in twitch-based game. To top it off, I’ve been using the same four skills in the same order over and over again in nearly every fight for the last hundred hours of gameplay. That’s like playing the same song on easy-mode repeatedly.
Combat in my current MMO is not twitch based enough to challenge my reflexes. Therefore, it’s not twitch-based enough to cause twich-fun.
That isn’t to say that twitch-fun is the only kind of fun. There’s also fun to be had at thinking up strategies and planning ahead. There’s a lot of fun in games like Starcraft or Chess in anticipating what you think is going to happen, making a plan, and executing that plan.
In most battles in MMOs, you’re fighting something that does the same behaviors over and over again with little to no variation. This goblin will throw spears at me, then I’ll tap the same buttons I always do, and it will die. That’s like playing chess against a computer opponent which makes the exact same moves every time. Worse yet, this computer opponent doesn’t change up its moves if you leave yourself exposed, or screw up. It just keeps throwing those same moves at you, blind to the circumstances.