Monday, September 26, 2022

MyMMORPG: Let's dream one up!

 Listening to various podcasts about Ashes of Creation and listening to folks overlay their hearts and dreams on the game has made me think about what I'd want out of an MMORPG.  Combined with my recent "a post a day" commitment to get back into blogging I figured it was time to start my long awaited series on "My MMORPG" and the game I'd make if I was Steven-rich.

The question is where do you start this quest?  Do you come up with a long list of things to do?  An outline of the entire thing?  Define the business model; is it free to play or a subscription?  Write the story first?  

Personally I have a saying I like to use in my career "If something is worth doing it is worth doing WRONG." What does that have to do with where to start?  Fair question. I bring this up here because I want this to be a start but not the only start.  We may be back here again in the near future.  Maybe feedback makes me change course.  Maybe a brilliant idea later down the road requires something earlier on changes.  Regardless I have a couple goals to get started here.

  1. This first post has to set the framework
  2. Keep it simple

So where do we start?  Simple: the world and setting for the game and to keep it simple and set the framework for future conversations this post would be better titled as "The Not-Star-Wars MMORPG". Follow along to find out why.

When I look back on any MMORPG I've played (or wish I could play) the first thing that always catches my attention is the world and setting.  Ultima Online?  Basically took every medieval text MUD I had ever played and put it on screen.  World of Warcraft? Warcraft where I get to play that orc on the battlfield!? Count me in!  Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning?  Duh (and sigh).  Star Wars Galaxies?  Ummm; duh x2!  New World? A cool setting that hooked me before I ever hit log in.

So why "Not-Star-Wars"?  Simple: Star Wars has everything in a setting that I'd want in my dream MMORPG, but I would never want to put my chips into a game that can be ended on the whim of an intellectual property owner.

Let's work through what "Not-Star-Wars" brings to us:

  • Melee combat
  • Ranged combat
  • Magic 
  • Not-magic
  • Mounts
  • Vehicles (aka multiplayer mounts)
  • Houses
  • Spaceships (aka space houses)
  • Varied planets (i.e. zones and instanced content)
  • Multiple races
  • Multiple classes
  • Crafting

Probably the biggest benefit of this setting that pays off the most is the "varied planets".  Planets and space travel between them is the ideal contextual reason for zones and instanced content to exist without turning the game into hub and spoke and thus losing the M for Massive.  While the world setting doesn't need to explain everything the more it is able to justify for mechanics to exist the better the game will feel.  It would make immediate sense to a player that they are jumping in a space ship, zooming through space, and ending up on a unique alien planet that only they and their group are present on.

This also allows this MMORPG to target the "mega server" model instead of "single server" and have it all make sense with the way the universe is set up.  All players need to be in one single universe with the chance at any time to interact with any other player.  This eliminates problems such as scaling up single servers to deal with population growths and eliminates the follow on problems of having to merge servers down.  The universe just exists and it makes sense when you jump in a space ship and fly off to a planet that you are off by yourself and then joining back on a busy core planet with thousands of other players.

Another benefit that some old school MMORPG players will welcome is that space travel, inside a fully customized player ship, can bring back the social aspect that has been missing due to the "get you directly into a group and into content" model of "group finders" in most MMORPGs.  Don't get me wrong; I want games to connect players via in game tools but what I also want to ensure it drops players into the opportunity to socialize and not just at the starting point a sprint.  Sitting around in a space ship, making preparations for the content, and socializing with your fellow players is huge.  Scale this concept up to core planets and ideas like space stations: the core of setting should be places for players to interact socially.

As my bulleted list shows there is a lot of pieces that fit with Not-Star-Wars and give context to game systems and mechanics MMORPG players are familiar with.  Again the most important aspect is that the setting gives context to many MMORPG staple systems such as zones, instanced content, socializing and more.

More to come on MyMMORPG!  Have thoughts?  Think I am starting in the wrong place or heading in the wrong direction?  Leave a comment.  I love to argue socialize.

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