Having just listened to the folks over at Channel Massive lamenting in their podcast #66 the fact that MMOs these days are being perverted and twisted away from their original concept of another world in which to adventure, socialise and immerse oneself, and have instead become all about gaming achievement, I am inclined to take a suppositionary meander down the quiet leafy byway that is MMO Evolution Lane.
You see, it was not too long ago that I foisted myself upon the innocent and upstanding folks of the Van Hemlock podcast in their episode recorded at the Eurogamer Expo, where, as well as repeating the phrase ‘War Twat’ far too often, I also posed the question (about 33:33 in, for the stalkers out there) as to whether MMOs will succeed on consoles.
The answer from the panellists was that MMOs would indeed succeed on the consoles, with a few tweaks to the games in order for them to translate well: “Get rid of the grind”, “Make it drop-in”, “Streamline the UI”, “Must be playing for fun”.
As such, and with the thought that MMOs are apparently being twisted by the player base into something different to what they were originally, my question changes to: will MMOs succeeding on the consoles destroy the MMO as we traditionally know it? Essentially, are MMOs coming to the consoles now purely because consoles have evolved enough to be able to handle an MMO, or are they coming to the consoles because they have (d)evolved to such an extent that they will now appeal to the drop-in, streamlined, Xbox Gamer Card achievement generation?
I have to wonder if we’re about to see the evolution of a genre, or the creation of a new genre at the expense of the old one.
I look at games like GTA IV, Saints Row 2 and Oblivion and I find a glimmer of hope in the future MMOs on the console. These are still sandbox games, adventurous in scope and nature, and they live equally well in the hearts of PC gamers and console gamers alike. The first two games do cater to the achievement crowd though; don’t get me wrong, however, achievements can be a good thing if done well, they can encourage players to attempt feats they may not normally have bothered with, to explore places they may not thought to have looked, but they can also be used to encourage behaviour which is the antithesis of what it means to devote oneself to an MMO.
Console MMOs will undoubtedly succeed, but I am a little concerned as to the nature of their success, and whether it will come at the cost of the genre that I have known and loved, that future MMOs will be little more than glorified clones of Pacman, with players gobbling down pellets of XP as fast as they can in order to achieve the high score.
I agree that they will succeed on consoles. An interesting point you raise though.
On the one hand, console gamers need a more “hands on” experience, which may turn MMO gameplay into, well, actual gameplay.
But on the other hand, gamers are people whatever platform they play on, and may be just as unwittingly keen to hop on the hamster wheel with the rest of us and grind away.
I guess only time will tell…
Thanks for giving us a listen mel.
Achievements are all well and good and certainly deserve their place in MMO’s, but not at the expense of what made these games great in the first place.
I’m starting to feel that players and developers alike need to unlearn what they have learned over the past 4-5 years of MMO gaming. Maybe we’re at a point where the genre actually needs to devolve a bit in order to evolve again (if that makes any sense).
Whether that happens to be on a console or from behind the trusty rusty keyboard and mouse really isn’t relevant to me in the grand scheme of things.
Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)
I think at least one of the two new classes in LotRO is an experiment by Turbine in creating a viable mechanic for control pads without sacrificing the depth of having many abilities.
Wardens have lots of abilities, but they are are achieved through building combinations of 3 core abilities, called Gambits, with the combos being up to 5 gambits in length.
Add another couple of buttons to the core 3, one for firing the combo, and one for deleting the last gambit, and you have something that pretty much every control pad could accommodate.
Of course I haven’t got around to actually trying a Warden yet…