MMOs And The Future Of Technology
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately that have been discussing the disappointing turn of events surrounding RIFT’s first world event. Apparently it was queues galore, resulting in a fair number of players missing out on the narrow window of the opportunity to complete the event, a real shame all in all (although no doubt some folk are overreacting in the manner only the Internet can allow). But here we are again, even with the most slick and advanced MMO, facing queues, that old MMO nemesis. Will we ever be able to move past it all?
Of course queues are a result of basic hardware and software restrictions and they’re no easy feat to overcome. We need to queue because, simply put, if too many people all got on to one server at the same time the entire thing would explode and sys admins would be found lying in heaps, crying in server rooms around the globe. This has been an unfortunate basic fact since the dawn of mass market MMOs over a decade ago. We are utterly and absolutely beholden to technology it seems.
So what does the future of technology hold for our MMOs? Will it change the way we interact with them entirely and turn our user experience into some kind of super-duper virtual reality game? Or will it simply allow us to iron out all of these bugs and issues that seem to keep cropping up, 12 years since the launch of the first 3D MMO?
Frankly, I don’t think it will be either.
The problem is that as hardware and software technology increases in power and robustness it also equally scales in complexity and demand. RIFT is a great example of this and how, even with all of our modern technology that would’ve seemed so advanced to the Everquest development team in the mid/late 90s, we still suffer from restrictions due to larger size of the player base and the more demanding nature of the game. Graphics, physics, AI etc are all far more advanced now than ever and require more processing power than ever before plus the game itself is expected to do so many more wonderful things. Used to be day when players were just pleased to be able to log in and play for 20 minutes without getting kicked off due to lag but now they expect all sort of fancy shenanigans like dynamic world events and huge scale mass PvP.
Ultimately I don’t see the future of technology really improving our MMO lives at all. However though, if there is a single factor that will make the next decade of MMO gaming smoother and more user friendly than ever before, it will be all of the people are who are developing, designing, programming and administrator our games. They are gaining experience (pardon the pun), exposure and familiarity with massive online gaming that just wasn’t available 10 years ago and it will be these factors that improve the operation of MMOs in the years to come. They are our future, not technology.