Quality of Life

Little things make a big difference in your enjoyment. You would not list “cup holders” on your make-or-break features for a car, but you will notice fairly often if they are missing or sub-optimal. If they are really good, you might never notice.

In World of Warcraft, when you mouse-over a monster, the box mentions if you have a quest to kill it. This is very nice if you forget what you are doing with two dozen quests active or are not sure whether you need Prowlers, Young Prowlers, Mature Prowlers, or some or any combination of the three. In World of Warcraft, you carry quest items in your bags. This is not very nice with two dozen quests active or if you need different parts from Prowlers, Young Prowlers, and Mature Prowlers.

In World of Warcraft, you can talk to NPCs from horseback. Mounts are treated as skills, not inventory items. (The Lord of the Rings Online™ will be getting both of these in Siege of Mirkwood™.) You are not dismounted by puddles or nipping wolves.

World of Warcraft has a currency tab. I have read that there are too many currencies with all the various points, badges, and whatnot you can get. Now imagine that problem when the currencies are treated as barter (inventory) options. Would you like to see the variety of tokens in my vaults for The Lord of the Rings Online™?

World of Warcraft treats inventory space as yet another kind of achievement. You buy bags, and bags can be of various sizes. You buy vault slots, then you need to buy the bags for them. Non-tiny bags cost more than you can afford on your own. Unless someone sends you some nice late-game bags, you will spend most of the leveling game with most your inventory full of quest items and basic supplies. The Lord of the Rings Online™ starts everyone with 75 inventory slots, but the only way to increase your space is to buy more vault slots (bag included in the price) or housing. World of Warcraft has no housing. World of Warcraft also has no default button for “open all bags” that I have stumbled upon.

Putting NPCs on platforms, podiums, and stages makes them much easier to click in crowds.

: Zubon

20 thoughts on “Quality of Life”

      1. The first change to the default keybinding I do for WoW on an install is to swap the “b” and “shift+b” so all the bags open up at once.

    1. beat me to it :/

      And yeah, thank goodness blizzard has mostly learnt the the podium/stage lesson – although the dalaran flight master is still nasty if there’s a mounted tauren standing ontop of him ><

  1. All of the things you’ve mentioned certainly do make these games easier to play – but at the expense of removing the challenge that makes them interesting to play in the first place!

    Champions Online is a case in point. Missions are pin-pointed on the map so that zero effort is required to find what you’re looking for. Simply fly to the designated area, kill mob(s), fly back to quest-giver for reward. After 20 levels of this, I’m struggling to find a reason to log-in.

    1. Mounts taking up inventory space is the challenge that makes MMOs interesting to play in the first place? Inventory management generally? Needing to dismount to talk to NPCs? Having trouble talking to NPCs because of poor placement?

      1. Mounts taking up space (weight) in DF is indeed interesting. Do you bring 1, and stay at 40% burden, 2 and 80%, or 3 because you don’t plan to put the 3rd in your bag and just ride it till it gets killed? And if you bring 2, you can’t loot a dead players mount, or as much gear.

        Same principle for inventory, bring more / risk more, bring too little and you might run out. Put stone deep in a bags and watch as the player who quickly looted you is now overburdened and an easy target for the rest of your group.

        You also need to dismount to loot, use a bank, talk to an NPC etc, and since that mount can be taken by another player or killed by a mob, when and where to dismount to becomes a tactical decision.

        So yes, making things automatic in some cases might be better, in others it just removes gameplay options. Depends what you are looking for in an MMO. Auto-running to quests and auto-combat are great features if something important is on TV, or your hosting a dinner party while trying to get one more level. Generally I don’t eat, watch TV, and browse the internet while gaming, but I guess that’s why I prefer niche games :)

        1. Darkfall’s entire structure is fundamentally different from WoW’s. Decisions that are interesting in DF are just boring nonsense in WoW; among others, how many mounts to carry around.

          Without wanting to get into the various debates, I’d say that comparing DF to WoW is pretty unproductive.

  2. In many Asian MMOs (e.g. Runes of Magic, Jade Dynasty) holding shift and clicking roughly in an NPC’s area will select them even if they’re in a crowd of 40 people, which sometimes really happens.

    Also, auto-walk. The Asians had it for years, now Free Realms has it, wonder how long until LotRO and WoW copy it :)

    Oh, and teleport books with multiple marked teleport spots to get back to. RoM has that.

    Searchable NPC directory? There’s one in RoM.


  3. WoW has always had autowalk.

    “Quests” have a new meaning thanks to MMOs. Quest info is built into the game now because if it wasn’t, people would just look it up online or make a mod that does that for you (which is how it worked for WoW until recently). And ultimately, “Find Mankriks wife” really wasn’t any more enjoyable for me.

    Perhaps what we need now is a different category of quests; ones with the intention of being difficult. But difficulty because of simplistic practical issues like location isn’t going to cut it on the internet.

  4. Wow has also always had a click to walk option, as long as I’ve been playing at any rate. This isn’t to say its good, but its there.

    Also, certain classes get to teleport around, or if you’re an engineer. Just sayin’

  5. Best not be forgetting the mule-alt with its one-man-guild, complete with guild bank. Hundreds of slots for hundreds of gold!

  6. Keep in mind that it took WoW several years to put in some of those “quality of life” features. And, Blizzard still makes mistakes in these areas: the fight master in Dalaran, the summoning stone in Naxx, etc. In LotRO’s defense, they’ve talked about doing some of these changes, particularly with mounts, for the game in the announced mini-expansion.

    As for other things, let’s not forget that different people have different tastes. My WoW group loved trying to figure out quests without just following QuestHelper. And, personally, I enjoy inventory management (I know, call me strange, I just do). Consider that eliminating your “frustration” could be eliminating someone else’s “fun”.

  7. @Verilazic, @Changling Bob: Umm. I didn’t mean autowalk as in “press something” (numlock, caps-lock etc.) to keep walking.

    I mean autowalk as in “press button to walk to designated NPC”. The game then walks you across the country for hours, if necessary, until you arrive at the destination.

    Some implementations are better and will walk around mountains and the like (Runes of Magic, Jade Dynasty), others are a bit more primitive and take the straight route (Free Realms).

    Try RoM once to see what it’s like. You can even click the names of mobs you’re supposed to kill/grind in your quest manager and the game will walk you to the nearest location where those mobs live.

  8. They solved the Tauren-mounted-on-a-mammoth-standing-on-the-flightmaster/mailbox problem in a roundabout way. The daily cooking quest will sometimes reward you with “Baby Spice”, which when thrown on another player will shrink them by half for 10 secs. Many players always carry a stack around for just this purpose.

  9. @Bri: Wow. The Jade Dynasty/Runes of Magic etc. shift-clicking approach would probably have been simpler to implement.

    Though surely not as cute.

  10. Guys, one thing is inventory management and another is inventory micromanaging. Management can be fine. Depends on how it’s implemented. It could be a nice micro-layer on top of other things. That’s fine.

    It’s not so nice when you’re forced to micromanage, and the way you (player) usually realize it’s micromanagement it’s when you run into an inventory issue and it takes you (untrained player) all of 5 seconds to think of a better way it could have been done. Micromanaging usually borders on the needless because just by appealing to common sense (both inside the game within it’s own rules, and outside the game as a player) you can come up with a better solution.

    Management is fine. “I need to pay attention to what I’m picking up or what I have to skip because of space/weight issues here”. That’s fine. Micromanaging isn’t. “Why on earth doesn’t this item stack or behave like every other similar item in the game?!”, “Why the flying **** does my mount take up room in my bags?”, “Why can’t I just stack these stupid Hills of Stranglethorn pages! It’s a book! They’re -supposed- to be stacked while in book form, but I can’t do it separate!”. That’s just horrifying.

    Running into an arbitrary design wall, or worst, design mistake is not a ‘challenge’.

  11. I can’t believe that World of Warcraft isn’t a trade-marked name! Or is it… and you simply don’t respect the intellectual property rights of Activision/Blizz as much as you do those of Turbine? ;-P

    1. I extend it to Turbine because of their efforts to get as many characters as possible into the original game name: “The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume One: Shadows of Angmar™” We had a discussion about that at some point, but it’s too late for me to be searching for a link.

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