Nitpick: Platforming fail
I’ve been aware of platforming in MMOs for a while but it came to my attention a few months ago how annoying it really is. It all started out as a simple discussion among gaming peers on twitter where we complained about the platforming aspect of Guild Wars 2. However, our discussion wasn’t just limited to this game as we realized that other MMOs do this as well such as The Secret World and Star Wars: The Old Republic. This week on nitpick I want to discuss and rant a bit about platforming in MMOs, specifically Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2.
Movement in PC gaming has always been inferior compared to their console counterparts. The varying flexibility that a controller offers compared to the static movement due to keyboards has been the main issue for this main difference. With a control stick you are able to precisely control the speed of your movements, how you move and and how you control the camera. This is absolutely not possible with a keyboard. There is only one speed of movement on a keyboard and in order to do precise movement you’d have to taps on the keyboard making the entire process frustrating. The console and PC mediums will always have this major difference and as a result, anything related to precision-based movement becomes an absolute hassle.
Enter the two MMOs that have precision-based movements: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2. While none of these games force the player to do anything precise with their movements, they offer gameplay elements and have certain optional tasks that reward them for doing so. Platforming is a type of movement that requires accuracy and precision. This means the player has to have complete and total control of the character that he or she is using. Platforming on PC gaming becomes a pain in the butt as a result.
Let’s take Star Wars: The Old Republic for the first example. There are numerous locations where the player must use perfect navigation and platforming skills to reach their end destination. At the end is usually a Holocron which gives the player a permanent stat boost. As a result, these rewards are extremely enticing and everyone wants to get them. Now, if the difficulty of the platforming is challenging and hard because the reward is so good then this is great gameplay design. After all, you should be rewarded for finishing something that is hard. The problem is that the actual platforming isn’t hard. In fact, if you were using a controller the platforming would be extremely easy. However, there lies the innate problem. It’s not that the level design is challenging or obstacles making the entire the process hard.