Monday, January 21, 2008

Let's Go Cray

If you've been reading these rantings for a while, you know that I want more from an MMORPG than what is offered today. I want realistic advancement. I want a realistic world to explore and conquer. I want fun trade-skills, and generally fun at every corner. But there's also lots of things that I think would be fun, but I haven't mentioned because they aren't practical, due to hardware or social limitations. So I'm going to go crazy now, and name all the pretty ponies I want for my birthday.

First of all, what about a full character customization? Having lots of options is nice, and the Elder Scrolls series has a nice character customization, but what if we could get more? Say, going clay modeling for the face, or opening 3D studio to design the character; or maybe picking hair style by combining many styles into one. This would certainly be leaps forward compared to current MMO trends.
Chances of this happening : We won't see anything this advanced because people can't be trusted with full openness; I'm still holding out for something that makes me go 'wow' the way Oblivion did.

What about a nice social network? You could rate the people you interact with in-game, and the game would tell you how much it expects you to like other people. People with similar beliefs would be registered by a state-of-the-art AI and could more easily find each other, thus enhancing their game experience.
Chances of this happening : I'm not holding my breath; socializers are usually the first ones to suffer from budget cuts.
(For those who are more programming-savvy, I've been told that friend-of-a-friend software is O (n^2), so it probably won't happen for a while)

If we're going crazy, why not add destructible environment? With real world constraint calculations? And realistic physics, thrown in for good measure? Of course, the ability to interact with the environment and leave a lasting mark would be nice, but what we all know we want is to see what happens you we toss fireballs around like maniacs. Show me a gamer who doesn't like explosives and I'll show you someone in denial.
Chances of this happening : Cold day in heck. Aside from the fact that MMORPGs of today are static games, we also have to remember that the system needs to do all of those things simultaneously for all those people connected. It's nice to dream, but unless they invent infinite computational power tomorrow, I won't be holding my breath too long...

Could be more, of course... What about growing up as a child? The ability of a game to interact with the real world in a meaningful way, such that real work can be accomplished in a more relaxing atmosphere? Or a smart, unpredictable AI? Heck, any AI at all would be nice. Just toss us an AI bone. We'll take anything, really.


What else have I forgotten? Aside from virtual reality, or mixing all the genres into one large mega-game, what else could be done, in a perfect world, to move the MMORPG genre forward, and help the cause of boredom-deprivation?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Reverse-Engineering Crafting

Wouldn't it be nice to find a nice Sword of Everlasting Pepper, and be able to tell how it's made? Check out the blade and learn about the crafting process; cut out the leather hilt to tell where it came from; or maybe analyze the enchantment to know how you, too, would be able to create spicy, delicious condiments at a moment's notice, astounding friends and foes alike with your culinary prowesses.

You would first go to your trainer, of course, asking if he, or any of his colleagues, knew how to create the desired ingredient-spawning magic. Learning that such an art is only known to a currently hostile population, but knowing that your life would have no meaning without the capacity to summon the indispensable treat at will, you would venture in a long trek along snaky roads and pointy mountains, braving dangers unknown to sentient-kind, only to yet again face death in the hands of the spicy masters. Claiming your prize, you would go along disassembling it, hoping you would be skillful enough to pinpoint and understand what, exactly, makes deadly arsenals create such a delightful supplement.

Playing a minigame of difficulty varying depending on the power of the knowledge or knowledges you seek proportional to your own, you hope that you can understand the mysteries of sharp and blunt seasoning before you completely ruin the weapon; should you fail, you would be forced to find another similarly powered item to once again attempt reverse-engineering the peppering process. Should you win, of course, you would be covered with glory; you would sell the final products to rich warriors hoping to add a little spice to their fights (horrible pun intended), and masters of the arts would travel from distant lands in hope of trading secrets with one such as you.

This is the only thing keeping you going, of course. Through freezing tundras or fiery volcanoes you march, with the only thought being of the power and glory that would be rightfully yours should you manage to bring the knowledge of such power to your undeserving homelands. Be proud, my friend, for your goal is noble. We will await you here, knowing, with each bland meal, that you are working hard to deliver us from our culinary impediments. Forward!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Magic-Intensive World

Everywhere you look, it's pretty much always the same things... You've got the throng of medieval-fantasy worlds on one side, then the ones trying something different on the other... There's science-fiction, modern, science-fantasy and a few others, of course, which should be praised for at least not introducing even more orcs and elves to an already Tolkien-saturated market, but beyond those few gems of varying shines, there's little to keep a fantasy enthusiast entertained.

An idea I had is of a fantasy world not unlike those swords-and-fireballs me-too clones out there, but with the distinction that magic is a prevalent and abundant power. Most people, no matter their profession, are expected to know their own share of magic, and science, for the most part, is relegated to hobbyists looking to pass the time between their magic-using jobs and watching the magic TV. That is not to say that people of the magical world are still using flint stones to skin the Tarrasque, of course, since an abundance of magic means a lot of potential for growth that do not require knowledge of fission. Buildings are built by taking the raw materials and shaping them in the desired shape; food is grown and harvested by highly specialized agricultural spells, and whatever tools a magical society does need are created by telling the otherwise obedient laws of nature to shut up and do as they're told.

Barring external forces, our magic society would evolve towards an utopia at an alarming rate. A powerful and common magic means most actions are easier to take than within a non-magical world, so fewer people are necessary to do the basic maintenance, leaving more people to advance the arts of the crafts even further. In an advanced magic society, sustenance is assured, work loads are light and movement is trivial. All that's left is to create greater and greater things. That, or finding an opposing force, of course, which is somewhat typical of an MMORPG.

So yes, strictly speaking, it might be a medieval fantasy game, but you'll have to search long before you find a sword to swing, or a dragon that isn't friendly or dead. People might still need help, though. Now where did I put this 'summon exclamation mark' scroll, already?