Massively report that for neck-bitey MMO World of Darkness “it’s CCP’s desire to emulate LARPing (live-action roleplaying) as much as possible […] with plenty of metaplots running inside the game and without” (my emphasis).
Can’t wait for the Goons to kick down the virtual walls between EVE and World of Darkness, take a Titan through, and hover there threatening to vaporise the planet unless all the vampires transfer their monocles to a nominated corporation…
It’s been a fairly quiet summer for MMO updates.
Which is why LotRO’s considerable Isengard expansion, DDO’s Update 11 with new Artificer class, and City of Heroes’ freemium Issue 21, have all decided to launch now, within a week or so of one another. Because they’re all trying to kill me with MMO overload after several months of deprivation, clearly.
Living with current MMO release schedules is like existing alone on a deserted island which is visited once a year by five different carnivals, all at the same time, for one week.
Eventually some bright spark in China will work out how to link their factory equipment controls to an MMO interface; then they’ll simply create quests such as ‘Craft 10000 Nike trainers for 30 XP’, and we’ll pay them a monthly fee to let us do it.
With the ostensible beginnings of a long resisted but inevitable decline, it’s interesting to see World of Warcraft finally forced to passe arrière. What’s more interesting is their counter-riposte: a patent feint hinting at an expansion involving one of their most beloved and untapped races, then a change of engagement with respect to the balance of responsibility within the Holy Trinity, and now a redoublement of emphasis on appealing to the casual/RP masses.
What next, I wonder. Mentoring? Housing?
However, what will be most fascinating to observe –with Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic just around the corner– is whether this is too little too late, is this the Hero of Haarlem trying to plug the Möhne dam with his finger?
From now on, before I start playing a new MMO, my character is going to write a linkedin system, using papyrus punched with their teeth if they have to, and hand it out to every NPC in the game.
Thus, when my character approaches a new faction, having adventured for years, with a hundred levels under their belt, the defeat of countless potentially world-ending villains, the rescue of multifarious powerless persons, the destruction of numerous evil relics of infinite power, the overthrowing of divers despotic regimes, the prevention of multitudinous cataclysmic events across both time and space, and a dedication to the slaughter of wildlife that would give a T-rex indigestion at the mere thought, they can point the snooty NPC –who wants my character to collect badger turds for faction reputation before they’ll speak to them properly– to their linkedin profile, which reports a network of over fifty thousand satisfied NPCs who were unable to save their own sorry arses, and a reputation of AAAA++ Would Definitely Have This Hero Save Our Town Again.
Then my character would take the bag of badger bum blops and empty it over the NPC’s head, telling them that it’s their own damn porridge so they can use their own damned spoon, before wandering off and finding a faction that willingly accepts an offer of aid.
Sophisticated game engines that blur the lines between cutscenes, scripted sequences and regular gameplay can be a powerful tool for increased immersion. It can be irritating when control is taken away from you and you’re forced to observe something while frozen in fear, or through the unbreakable window of a locked room, but at least it’s preferable to the illusion of interaction when there’s only one possible outcome…
“Right young Geoffrey, let’s make up a story together! What would you like to hear a story about?”
“You’d like a story about chartered accountants? Excellent! Once there was a chartered accountant; what do you think his name should be?”
“No, Geoff, that’s wrong, he’s called Nigel. Once there was a chartered accountant called Nigel, who lived in…”
“Don’t be silly, Geoff, Outer Space has no accredited institutions that can confer chartered status. No; once there was a chartered accountant called Nigel, who lived in a medium sized village in the Thames Valley area within convenient commuting distance of the headquarters of several multinationals. One day, Nigel learned that…”
“He had magical powers!”
“NO, GEOFFREY! WRONG! Now we’re going to have to back to the beginning of the story, and try again until you give the correct answer. You can look it up in the Wiki here if you like. Let’s try again; once there was a chartered accountant called Nigel, who lived in a medium sized village in the Thames Valley area within convenient commuting distance of the headquarters of several multinationals. One day, Nigel learned that…”
An MMO should not require its players to undertake an organisational challenge on a par with that of an air traffic controller at a major international airport in order to form a group from a random set of friends with characters of varying levels.
If the requirements for being able to form a group –from that set of friends who are currently online– creates a decision Venn diagram which starts to look like the one to the right, consider again the nature of ‘multiplayer’ in the context of your game.
City of Heroes, EverQuest II: they both demonstrate that it’s perfectly possible to implement a mentoring system in an MMO which does not break the nature of the game, so why do so many MMOs still present a ridiculous number of barriers to friends playing together?
It is a slightly surreal situation when we consider that the primary outcome of RPG features these days is to act as a block to the MM in MMORPGs. For every feature that you add to an MMO, if the first question should be ‘Is this going to be fun?’, the second question should be a most vehement ‘Will this prevent a person from playing in a meaningful way with anyone of their choosing?’.
Only when these have been considered and answered satisfactorily should you move onto the usual third and fourth questions of ‘Oh, am I not meant to be in this design review?’ and ‘In that case, before I get down from the table, did anyone see where I threw my underpants?’.
From Massively, news that players should expect “around 200 hours of core gameplay per class” in SWTOR.
Say it’s 12 seconds on average to kill a rat, 5 RPM (rats per minute), times 60, times 200… I reckon SWTOR will have to ship with *at least* 60,000 rats.
Space rats, that is. With lightsabres and this and that and shit.
Could Nintendo’s Wii U controller work with MMOGs? Buttons and analogue sticks for moving and attacks a la DCUO or Champions played with a PS3/360 controller, a touchscreen for more menu/icon driven areas like inventory, talent trees and grouping that can be a little clunky with a conventional controller, and microphone for voice chat (plus camera if you wanted to go further and pop up a video window, though unless it supported sticking a bunch of markers to your face to map your movements onto your character’s in-game model that wouldn’t be terribly immersive).
“Hindsight explains the injury that foresight would have prevented.”
Second and third hero classes, along with broader and more varied level eighty five end-game content, instead of Cataclysm?