hmm, it’s been a while since I really talked about rotmg issues in this forum. where to begin? I suppose the best thing I can do for now is mention a very broad point that I can provide some justification for.
(tl;dr just read the last paragraph)
rotmg is neither a good roguelite nor a good mmorpg.
rotmg doesn’t have particularly good combat
if we take a look at the micro-gameplay, in the form of dungeon crawling shoot’em up content, rotmg simply doesn’t perform nearly as well as its peers in the “bullet hell” department- some of these issues take the form of tenured designs such as a simplistic aggro-based design, and others take the form of more mechanical/technical debts such as the presence of a highly exploitable instant nexus, lack of invulnerability frames, or the game’s general inability to lock the player to a specific playspace without a highly involved map design. there is a lot of skill involved in rotmg still, but anywhere else you look in the genre- you have a faster, purer, and just better executed version of combat.
rotmg doesn’t support the speed of roguelite progression
beyond level 20, rotmg struggles to continue its roguelite model of a nimble, skill-heavy progression. maxing is a greatly time-consuming process that involves grinding much of the same content in the same spot in the game. there’s not a lot of upward mobility through skill or random chance- a rare roll in a godlands dungeon might entail getting 2-3 stat potions instead of just 1. knowing that there are roughly ~200 potions required to max, this is an absolutely sluggish point in progression for any roguelite standards. in the early wildshadow days, the concept of maxing was added simply as a band-aid to give players something to do when they had mastered reaching level 20. does this sound familiar to… say, pets? exaltation? forge? everything is a band-aid. progression has no foundation and thus we continue changing the game state and rendering much content subpar or even completely useless to progression when we move to the next layer. Each of those layers adds some level of stability to the average player’s runs but reduces the probability of random windfalls that improve your run, or skill-based challenges that boost your run.
rotmg is punishing for the wrong reasons
it’s due to the same technical crust and poor design mentioned in the first section that rotmg ends up adding many sources of unfair loss mechanics- whether that comes in the form of many near-instakills that technically aren’t instakills, but are still general singular mistakes that lead to a run reset. similarly, the punishment scales with the time/effort needed to get back to the same point in progression, something that doesn’t scale very well at all. a lot of times it can feel difficult for a player to take ownership over their own loss.
rotmg is also too safe/stable for the wrong reasons
early-midgame progression takes the form of character progression (pots and items), which are all capable of being stored in an expandable vault system. lategame progression takes the form of pets/exaltations, neither of which lose any progress on death. at some point, stakes don’t properly scale as the ability to store massive windfalls of items softens any real blow that permadeath could possibly deal to your way of playing the game. in short, storage is the permadeath buffer, but as it’s nearly unattainable for F2P and far too reliable for anyone who does have the space, it’s not very good at what it does. with storage buffering all sense of loss, it fails to actually bring out the good aspects of permadeath games- the ability to change your play circumstances at a moment’s notice.
rotmg doesn’t support an mmo progression
it’s due to the same systems that once made rotmg a semi-decent roguelite that prevent it from making it a good mmo. character progression is cut terribly short due to a short-sighted maxing system that stops being relevant beyond godlands tier content, and account progression is lagging sorely behind auxiliary systems that were never meant to hold the full weight of player progression needs. character progression is unable to really flourish due to permadeath acting as a limiter to how much time/effort should be sunk into an individual character. without the broad scale of activities that can contribute to your account progression, it’s hard to really dive into rotmg the same way you can a more typical mmo with better systems designed for large time/effort sinking.
rotmg has no art, sound, or narrative worth remembering by
it lacks an aesthetic beyond just being a “quirky pixel game” that might turn a few bored teens’ eyes when looking for games to kill time with. it’s just not a very memorable game for anything but gameplay. this is deserving of a post in itself, so i’ll keep this one short.
rotmg is actively resistant to change
try as you might to bring the best points to the table, or the most innovative solutions, no one that matters is listening. each valued group of players, whales, lategame raiders, etc. (basically anyone except F2P) each have established their own set of expectations that they are quite difficult to budge on. DECA’s management is far too risk-averse to ever shift the game too far from the expectations of the players that pay for their bottom line. In both Kabam/DECA, there have been many truly talented and passionate developers and designers who wished the best for the game, but the management structure is built against their wishes and often at times the most ambitious game-changers are often the ones who are booted from the team first. Those who stay struggle with a company that literally, not figuratively, does not care for the design of the game, and resists attempts to better the game.
i love realm, which is why it’s sad for me to say that i’m pessimistic things will ever improve from the perspective of realm of the mad god. but there’s better things to stress over and battles that are actually winnable. maybe think about that before placing too much emotional investment in the game’s future.