New MMO Paradigms Must Emerge

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]

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5 Responses to New MMO Paradigms Must Emerge

  1. ZeWrestler UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I personally will be happy as long as they stop charging a pay per month fee to play the game. that just pisses me off.

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  2. Luke UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Actually, one of Rubenfield’s points was making the game free to try, and free to play. If you want to have some in game property, like a garrage for your car, a guild house, etc… – then you pay a monthly fee.

    If you cost about as much as WoW to play, then you are in direct competition with them, and several other established systems. If you are dirt cheap or free people will not feel the financial strain of keeping your account open. And if they get into the game, they will probably want to pay for the extra content anyway.

    It makes sense.

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  3. Ninetail UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    “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.”

    Well, they sort of did. It was called Auto Assault. It didn’t have much in the way of out-of-vehicle exploration, let alone combat — just walks inside the towns, really. Mostly, you drove around in your armed and armored car, and you shot things. You shot lots of things. Sometimes you would get a quest to go shoot things, and do so, and gain a little more experience. Other times, you would just shoot things. You could party (“convoy”) with other people to shoot things, if you wanted to, or you could shoot things on your own. I don’t remember a party ever being required.

    It was a different sort of MMO, certainly. But different doesn’t automatically equal good.

    I’d been anticipating it, before its release. Then I was invited to the beta. The first day, I had some fun, and found a few bugs. The second day, I played for maybe two hours. (This was during a vacation, so I had plenty of time.) The third day, I completely lost interest. There just wasn’t enough depth to the gameplay. I couldn’t imagine paying for something that was basically Twisted Metal.

    I’m sure that a good game could be developed using similar themes, but I think the crash-and-burn of AA is likely to cause publishers to shrink away from those themes for a while.

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I think I heard about this game and I’m not surprised it flopped. As you said the drive around and shoot all the time gameplay just doesn’t offer enough variety to keep people interested.

    Still, I think GTA style game with the right amount of driving, on foot missions, varied combat (in and out of cars, shooting, close combat) , and some sort of crafting/upgrade system could be interesting.

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