Tuesday 16 August 2011

Concepts, like individuals, have their histories.

It’s been four years since the last review, so let’s have a look at a couple more MMO concepts that never made it into production:

Item Store Online – A curious conundrum of a game, clearly influenced by games such as Recettear, ISO was an MMO where players took on the role of an item store owner and attempted to make money by selling items in their store to NPCs and other PCs. The game itself had an item store, however, where players could purchase item store items to improve their item store in order to make more money, which could then be spent in the game’s item store or other player item stores. The first expansion was rumoured to allow players to sell the game’s item store items directly through their item store, but only if they bought a special item store item first. Once a player had bought the item store item that let them sell item store items in their item store, they could also sell the item that let players sell item store items in their item store in their item store.

Angle Grinder Online – Placing you in the role of an angle grinder, your job was to grind inanimate objects. Quests would require you to grind six objectives, with each objective requiring you to grind twenty objects. You’d grind reputation through grinding these grinding quests, which would eventually allow you to grind to the next level of grinding. Beta testers complained that, even though they were all hardened MMO veterans, the game simply contained far too much sex.

Porn World Online – Beta testers complained that there was far too much grinding.

Splungthrust: Tales of Flimbonia – Perhaps the greatest MMO of all time, it had everything that MMO players wanted. Huge sandbox elements seamlessly merged with theme park areas for the perfect questing experience. A genre-busting world design, which incorporated fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, and the wild west. An incredibly expansive player housing system. Intricate crafting that produced powerful customisable items. Twenty races. Fifty classes. Perfectly balanced meaningful PvP. Complex NPC AI that created exciting and challenging escort quests. Over seven years of unique content through three hundred character levels, with zero grind. A world which would permanently change based on the players’ actions. An active combat system that allowed for tactical or twitch game-play based on player preference. A detailed character customisation model allowing for intricate body specifications, such as left toe tendon length and eyebrow hair population density. In short, it was a utopia of MMO design. Unfortunately during beta testing the players complained that mailboxes were painted blue when clearly they should be red; the developers didn’t listen, and so nobody played the game upon its release.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Online – A game where players started out at level eighty and slowly worked their way down to level one. Players would work hard to worsen their characters, slowly trading out their starter epics for blues or, if they were lucky, greens. Once they reached level one, players would spend their time raiding training dummies until they’d earnt the right to wear nothing but their grey-con undergarments and wield a small twig with negative DPS, whereupon they would attempt to show-off their superiority by dancing on top of a mailbox in a major city, and promptly fall to their single optimised hit point deaths.

Crit Hit Online – In order to maximise the thrill of combat, every successful attack in CHO was a critical.

OCDOCDOCDO… – An MMO where each player took on the role of a counsellor helping NPCs with acute cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Players accomplished this by repeatedly checking on their NPC patients in order to be able to help them as soon as required. Daily quests that gained the player vital reputation with the medical board were also essential. Success was much more likely for those who hoarded various medicines and treatments in their inventory and vault space on the remote chance that one of them might be useful for curing an NPC of their OCD one day. Every five levels the players would face a medical board evaluation if they hadn’t managed to complete every daily quest since their last examination; five was also the number of times that players were required to run in and out of an instance swirly before being allowed into the instance. Most important of all was the bonus experience buff that was granted to players if they always left their character at a specific spot before logging out each night; if they checked their mailbox more than ten times a day; if their inventory items were sorted into rows by type or alphabetically; if they finished a session with an even amount of experience or reputation; if they spent more time aligning their UI than playing the game that session; if they had spent more time running in a circle than standing still; or if they crafted an equal number of trousers as they did shirts, despite the skill gains being the same and the items being sold to a vendor, simply because they didn’t want the trouser recipe to feel left out. Notably, at the last count before the game was cancelled, there were over fifteen million achievements to be earned.

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