Imagine a function that could take the defining elements of an MMO and plot them in various colours and patterns on a 2D plane. If we scroll in and out of the image we change the scale of it, and so let us make that scale the timeline of MMO development. What you see as you zoom in and out of the image is that although it changes, there are strong patterns of similarity throughout.
“Quasi-self-similar fractals contain small copies of the entire fractal in distorted and degenerate forms.”
It’s interesting to imagine that what we have at the moment is a fractal MMO development system, where the original seed for our function was planted in MUD, and we have been applying recurrence relations to the system ever since. It has grown and branched out, our fractal tree, but every leaf is itself a small example of the same tree, and as you look through the history of the MMOs that you’ve played you can spot the fractal design in every one. The development process itself, for example, is but a fractal reflection of the Sisyphean efforts of the players within the game.
The problem with this imaginary system is that although its perimeter has infinite length – we can continue to create new MMOs from this function for as long as there is energy in the universe – the area that it bounds is finite, and thus leaves a limited set on which to draw ideas from. Perhaps this is what MMOs are, perhaps finding a new seed and creating a new fractal will mean that we no longer generate the ‘MMO set’ any more. It might be the case that a complimentary set can be found, however, something which follows the function that has proven successful so far, but, where the current fractal of development is regular, this new set introduces chaos into the mix, breaking down the precise uniform repetition while creating new and unexpected branches.