Saturday, December 15, 2007

What You Do Matters

So often, in MMORPGs, you see dozens of people killing the same creature over and over. You see them forming a line or entering instances just so they can slay the same boss. What happened to causality? It seems like doing something does not have consequences; if that is the case, then why bother?

Wouldn't it be much better if players could have an influence in the world? If slaying an evil beast would essentially mean that it is gone, no longer to plague the world with its taint? Of course, the players coming second will find only a lair largely devoid of opposition, but at least it would make a certain amount of sense. If you are worried that the world might become unpopulated, simply instill a rule of less killing, more reward; each opponent becomes a challenge, and players are forced to use their tricks much more efficiently, rather than continuously using the same skills over and over.

By giving players the opportunity to change the world, you give them the chance to make a difference. Players will feel special after successfully completing a rescue mission, because they know that, had they not done it, the would-be rescuee could very well have been killed, permanently affecting the world in a negative way. Likewise, players deciding to go on a rampage, killing innocents left and right, would find that not only are they now permanently hunted everywhere, but they have had an effect on their fellow players that could most likely be felt for a long time to come.

If more MMORPG developers were trying new things, pushing back preconceptions that have no room in a modern game, then we would see a real revolution in gaming. For now, we must live with revolutionary games that do things the way they've always been done.


Rezeyu said...

It's rather depressing that nobody comments on these ideas.

I just recently found this blog, whilst on my never ending quest to find a decent outlet of ORPG ideas OTHER than the standard Cookie-Cutter WoW Fare.

I look forward to your other ideas, even while I sit and read through an entire year's archive.

nikos m said...

Oh boy how much we'd like to be able to make a difference in the world. The problem is that both ways of making a difference (permakill and physical modifications) in the world cannot easily be supported by game mechanics designed to offer 400+ hours of entertainment to millions of people.

More specifically:

Permakill: Just have a look at blizzard's top list (it's somewhere on the site) that has all the "most killed" mobs. You'll see boss mobs being killed hundreds of thousands of times per week. What world can support populations that would survive hunting at this rate? Sure you could keep spawns and have only some permakillable mobs, but my guess is they'd be gone in the first week from release.

As for physical changes (making a difference in the landscape) the potential for griefing, vandalism, and ruining the feel of the world is huge there. A developer would have to either severly police it (with all the "they are oppressing my expression" arguments on CS) or gimp it to the point of being useless. Notice that games like WoW don't even allow you to use your own body as a barrier. (would be too easy to exploit for griefers) Imagine how hard it would be for them to support even more creative alterations of the world.

What they *could* be doing, and I don't understand why they are not doing it at all, is to have regular (say weekly) world events going on. And these should be uniqe and non-repeatable. But I'm talking about real world events not the AQ gates farmfest.