My Perfect MMORPG – Part 1
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what my perfect MMORPG would be. No idea how feasible it would be to create (although I’m sure it would be possible with enough cash), how popular it would be or actually if it would be any good. I’m not a games designer so I’m not actually sure what makes a game “good” or “fun”, I guess I’d just need to cross my fingers ad hope that it’s decent
I’ve broken this article down into two or three posts because I think it’s too big for one. Here’s my initial outline of what my perfect MMO would be and the overarching design concepts driving it.
Sci-Fi. Absolutely, Sci-Fi. Oddly enough I’m not actually a huge Sci-Fi fan and I tend to read mainly fantasy books mainly and, obviously, play mainly fantasy MMORPGs. Still, there’s something about a Sci-Fi setting that grabs me. Maybe it’s the lack of current science fiction MMOs or something about the vastness of the genre that appeals to me but my perfect MMO wouldn’t be fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I still love fantasy MMOs but there’s something about them that’s becoming very tired and stilted lately and I’d want my MMORPG to have an air of freshness and originality about it.
It also wouldn’t involve any existing intellectual properties (IP) because, quite frankly, I can’t think of any that either haven’t been done already or are any good. Apart from Star Wars and Star Trek there isn’t much in the way of mainstream Sci-Fi that would translate well to a MMORPG except for maybe Mass Effect.
I haven’t though too much about the story of this Sci-Fi world but I think it would offer the classic approach of plenty of aliens, strange worlds, nano-implants and nano-technology driven abilities.
Concept & Approach
The approach for my perfect MMO would revolve around two fundamental game concepts: third person, over the shoulder, perspectives with no starships whatsoever (I don’t really like the idea of mixing characters and starships – I think that’s two separate games) and an open skill or attribute based system.
I don’t know if I would call the game ‘sandbox’ or not. I guess it’s quite an abstract term that’s hard to define. I definitely like the idea of avoiding standard levels and classes though and going for a more open-ended approach that lets players increase their attributes (strength, willpower etc) through experience or implants and learn skills which allow them to accomplish new things like use different types of weapons, armor or abilities. I’m tempted to avoid the idea of time-based training like in EVE and maybe go for a system that sees skills having attribute and other skill pre-requisites. The general idea behind it all being that you accrue attribute points by performing actions (fighting, completing missions, buying/selling, crafting etc) and use them to increase your stats, in turn giving you access to different skills. No idea if that would actually work but it sounds interesting.
All of the action would take place on different worlds and space stations, giving the player plenty of diverse environments to explore. I’d also want a healthy mix of playable races and starting areas to make sure there’s a ton of replayability and interesting stories behind each race.
In terms of goals, I’d love to be able to mix the direction of something like World of Warcraft with the vastness and freedom of something like EVE. No doubt this would be tough to balance. I really want to strive to create a virtual world though with its own economy and a meaningful crafting and marketing system plus plenty of opportunities for players to engage in PvP and territorial wars. All of this without sacrificing immersive quest lines and even end-game raiding. I don’t know if this mix of play styles is at all possible but I’d love to find out.
So, overall, no small undertaking! I’ll write more about the ideas being PvE, PvP and crafting etc in Part 2 and hopefully flesh my ideas out a bit and try to make sense of it all. Even writing this short article has certainly given a new-found respect for game designers. It’s bloody tough to try and balance grandiose concepts with mechanics that would actually work and be fun. I wonder how (or if) any game designer actually knows if their game is going to be decent before they play the final thing.
Anyone else got any concepts or ideas for their perfect MMO they’d like to share?