Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Turning Point In MMO Design?

Tobold and Plaguelands, among others, have posted doom and gloom articles about how this year has been bad for MMOs. It has been. Which may be good. It may be the impetus the industry needs to get off the tired EverQuest clone rut its been in.

Vanguard was just a return to the old EQ mechanics. Been there, done that. No thanks. Let's move on.

Auto Assault, which closed this year, was just EQ with cars. Literally. Some cars even healed each other.

Lord of the Rings Online? Again, though it has many improvements, it still has the same old EQ gameplay. I don't recall Legolas in the movies stopping to loot an epic bow off of the orcs he slayed. So why are we still doing that?

Its telling that the major complaint about Tabula Rasa is that its "nothing new." Its sci-fi. It has an FPS-style mouselook movement scheme. It allows the use of cover. It has a cloning feature so you don't need to redo large parts of the game meaning they can actually have quests with consequences. And many other changes, and people say its still not different enough. Some thought it still felt like shoot-and-loot variant, a WoW with guns.

Thats what people want. Something different. We'll know it when we see it. You're not going to beat WoW by making another Holy Trinity EQ-style game. The only Holy Trinity EQ-style game that will beat WoW will be WoW 2.

So the market has spoken. The worst thing that could have happened to MMO fans would have been for Vanguard or LotrO to have been a raging success, supplanting WoW in the hearts of millions. If that (shudder) had happened, we wouldn't see anything but the same old Holy Trinity, loot-and-level game play for the next ten years. And its about time we moved on.

So now maybe more developers will look for new directions to take the genre. Or new niches to fill. That's why I'm eagerly awaiting PotBS. It actually looks like a refreshing change of pace. Unless the ships end up healing each other. They don't, do they? Please tell me they don't.

And now, as Tobold points out, maybe now they'll raise the amount of money they need to properly develop and polish their games too.

1 comment:

Biana said...

Good for people to know.