Dan Rubenfield, and experienced developer who worked on titles like Ultima and Star Wars Galaxies, has posted a very interesting entry in his blog today. He notes how the MMO market is completely dominated by WoW, and that game companies are afraid to compete with Blizzard in that area. So we get a bunch of WoW like MMO games trying to cater to casual gamers, or trying to catch WoW’s spillover players.
Dan suggests that game makers should stop trying to catch up with WoW and invest into creating an innovative, original game. He has a sweet idea for a futuristic MMO that would combine GTA mechanics, with Mad Max/Carmagedon vehicle upgrades and road combat. I think this is a grand idea. I would definitely play a game like that. In fact, I’m quite amazed no one has implemented this idea yet.
But why stop there. Why does every MMO have to be set in a fantasy or a SF world? There are so many unexplored areas that would make awesome multiplayer settings.
For example: prohibition era. I really loved Mafia so I would take that game as an entry point. Instead of a large world, create a huge metropolitan city with busy streets, and all buildings, some suburban areas on the outskirts. You can also connect all kinds of non-city like locations via highway strips, railroad tracks and etc…
The PVP model is already built into the concept. You can use opposing crime families which fight over territories, or even allow players to play as cops. You could then have players doing undercover work infiltrating the mob, and gangsters could try to infiltrate the police force. Some bigger quests could even allow cops and gangsters from different families to team up.
Quests could range from mob hits, gang fights, smuggling operations, bank robberies to big police raids. And to void grind, you can implement some kind of game mechanic allowing players to do routine “collections” to gain experience and rank in their family.
How about a MMO about Vampires? You could license White Wolfs’ World of Darkness setting and build upon the incredible depth of the in-game world. There is allot of space for innovative game play mechanics here – for example: hunting, feeding, creating ghouls etc… In fact, you have the skeleton game engine already designed for you – just use Masquerade like stat lines, skills and blood powers.
There are tons of opportunities for PVP also, as the WoD comes with built in conflicts between vampire clans, animosities and old grudges.
I am not aware of any MMO’s in a Wild West setting. How come no one is tackling that idea? or for that matter, how about steampunk? This increasingly more popular genre seems to be completely absent from video games.
People would buy innovative original games. You just need to make them. But if everyone will keep copying WoW, then obviously WoW will remain the undisputed king of MMO.
[tags]mmo, wow, world of warcraft, dan rubenfield, multiplayer games, massive multiplayer online[/tags]