Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Someone Else's Idea

I don't have the monopoly on ideas, wouldn't you know, and my brother recently came up with a concept that could warrant being further analysed. His idea is derived from LotRO's monster play system, which makes players take the role of bad guys; but instead of gaining intangible points that can be used to boost the player's game experience, monster players (or any other similar concept of opposition) get extra time added to their subscription; a player could play the game for free, if they play as monsters a lot.

This concept of paying the player to play the theoretically more boring aspect of the game would create a game where people who have more time and less money (traditionally called "kids") could still play the game, enjoying it for free (or cheaper), while helping to create a better game experience for those who are ready to pay the full price so they can play whatever they want to play. (Some would also argue that keeping kids out of the grown-up playground means paying customers get an overall more mature game to play).

Of course, one has to be careful just how far the gap between Elite and Free Play players extends. Too much of it, and you end up with a game that's not actually fun to play for the time extension part, and nobody wants to play it.

Or you could have a game that's focusing on tiered play even more; Savage has proven that the RTS and FPS styles can mix, but what about going further? You could make a game that's free to play for FPS players, requires a valid cd-key for RTS players, and has a monthly fee for the all-encompassing Civilization-like game, where battles are fought in the RTS-and-FPS game.

I might have derived a bit from the original MMORPG concept, but tiered play is certainly something to watch, if anything so that we don't become meals for the Elite users ourselves.


Tholal said...

That's certainly an interesting idea. Kind of reminds me of the year-long 'Reserves' system Planetside had that let anyone willing to download and register play for free, though limiting some of the skills they could acquire. Given that Planetside is all about large, epic conflicts, this was an excellent way to make sure that their population stayed at reasonable levels to be fun for everyone. They have since cancelled that program, and I'm not sure what effect it had on their population, but I would guess that it's been severly diminshed.

Zubon said...

This concept of paying the player to play the theoretically more boring aspect of the game...

An interesting notion. Of course, you could just eliminate boring parts.

The Planetside Reserves model was basically to provide free sheep for paying wolves. Some in Middle Earth are preferentially playing monsters, so it seems to be a bit of fun on its own, but you could have monsters that are more obviously sheep and let players earn time by playing them as sheep.

Hmm, you would not want to make it just logged in time. Give players an incentive, say x bonus time for each PC defeated, and each PC is not eligible again for time y (to prevent friends from farming each other for free time, or give PCs a penalty for this PvP loss).