In the world of MMORPGs, there are many tools designed to help us advance in the game more quickly and enjoy the game more. Mods and addons allow us to do this and often take on a life of their own with the many things they allow you to do in the game. UI mods are especially popular, changing the look of the user interface and allowing you to personalize your game like never before.
I have been playing WoW since beta and long before the days of mods that currently rule the game. GameSpy has a really interesting piece about World of Warcraft mods and how they are affecting the game which has me thinking about how they affect MMORPGs in general and how we see them. Have we become dependent on these addons to enjoy our games fully?
While I’ve been one to enjoy my fair share of addons, I’ve seen the problems they sometimes create as well. The article on GameSpy explains this very eloquently, using WoW as the example:
The evidence was irrefutable — according to Recount, a popular addon that tracks combat information for World of Warcraft, the Rogue in our group wasn’t pulling his weight. We’d already defeated three bosses in the Temple of the Jade Serpent in which the Rogue had dealt far less damage than the two other DPS classes in the party, and now the Tank was in a fit of rage, even though we’d never come close to wiping. And so, perhaps inevitably, the voting screen to kick the roguish fellow from the group popped up. The vote failed — everyone except the Tank voted no — and the angry tank abandoned us in a huff, effectively ending the dungeon run.
The article goes on to explain more and show more examples of why addons can damage MMORPGs. While I’m not anti-mods, I find myself nodding in agreement at a lot of the points being brought up. I’ve seen it time and time again in games, especially WoW- players get caught up in the mods and what they tell them instead of thinking for themselves or doing the analytics and number crunching for themselves. They attack, blame and even harass other players based on what some numbers in an addon say. Like all good things, some people take it too far.
The GameSpy article explores the notion that addons dehumanize the players. This is a thought that might offend some but I see just what the author means. I remember the days when gamers played MMOs together based on strategy, questing and even doing math on scratch paper. Now it’s all handed to us. It’s pre-written and pre-defined. It takes the human factor out of it and for many players, it takes the fun out of it, too.
So what does this mean for SWTOR? Well, BioWare seemed to take an early stance on the matter and they do not want players to have the ability to create addons and UI mods for their game, at least at this time. Certain SWTOR tools that are available must first be BioWare-approved. Their goal is to avoid changing the virgin or “vanilla” aspects of the game as much as possible. They have attempted to give players what they need and want by creating a very customizable UI based in the game. But for some players, this is not enough.
We have become a generation of gamers who want it now-now-now! Do you think SWTOR is better without the many addons and mods that other MMOs have or do you think they are hurting the game by not allowing more freedom with it?
Read more about that WoW addon article over at GameSpy.