Posts Tagged ‘mmorpg design’

IP Based MMOs Are High risk

Star Wars Galaxies

The droids you are looking for have been found and slaughtered

By now you’ve probably all read about the real reason for Star Wars Galaxies’ closure. Turns out it had nothing to do with profitability (well, OK, not strictly true but, even if SWG wasn’t making huge profits, we can assume that it wasn’t making a loss), developer motivation or lack of fan devotion but rather because SOE’s license ran out on the Star Wars IP. Yep, it was only a five year deal. Gee, kinda short sighted don’tcha think?

OK, OK, I’m sure SOE had the option to renew the license should they have wanted to and, in reality, the decision was theirs to shut down SWG rather than George Lucas’ due to a combination of lack of high profitability and the impending sense of doom that Star Wars: The Old Republic filled their increasingly stained pants with. Bottom line, if SOE had wanted to save SWG and renew the license, they could have regardless of how economically insane the decision might have been (I’m guessing a five year Star Wars license costs somewhere in the realm of five to ten gazillion dollars – I know, I missed a career in finance, right?).

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Why Not Have Leveling Up And Raiding As Two Separate Games?

Everuqest Raid

Raiding in Everquest involved waiting around for four hours then dying multiple times before being unable to retrieve your corpse

I think most people would agree that your typical themepark MMORPG is a real dichotomy of gaming. On hand, it presents a journey of progression through leveling, creating a character and then traversing a vast virtual world, accruing power and knowledge as you go, often either alone or in small groups. Then on the other hand, we have the end game experience, a sequence of complex and challenging raid encounters for large, well-prepared cohesive teams and multiple groups. The simple fact is though that these two forms of gameplay are completely different and utterly unlike each other, practically two separate games in their own right. So why not just admit this truth and keep them apart?

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RIFT vs The Cookie Cutter Monster

Cookie Monster

The Cookie Monster. Teaching addiction to children.

In my previous post I wrote about how RIFT made me appreciate the class and talent design of World of Warcraft more than before – it’s all very streamlined and simple when compared to the huge amount of freedom, thought and decisions that RIFT offers. A nice little conversation sparked off in the comments section about whether or not this wealth of variety and option would reduce the appeal of following cookie cutter builds and I wanted to explore that thought a little more.

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RIFT Makes Me Appreciate WoWs Class Design More

Rift Champion

Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats, Ho!

I’m starting to warm to RIFT’s soul system. A lot. There’s something quite elegant and sublime about being able to change class on nothing more than a whim. I love being able to solo with my Champion and hack my opponents to pieces with my gigantic two-handed sword then quickly switch into a holy, shield-throwing Captain American wannabe Paladin to tackle some sudden rifts or tank for a group. And I haven’t even mentioned the options of exploring other diverse roles such as the animal loving (platonically) Beastmaster or the magic wielding Riftblade. Yes indeed, it’s a very flexible class system that fills me the comforting knowledge and sense that I will be satisfied with my Warrior for a long time to come yet. But I think I prefer WoWs class design more.

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Forcing People To Be Your Friend

Rift Grouping

His name was Reamvin. He didnt even know we were grouped.

One of the more innovative and interesting features in RIFT (why do I feel obliged to write that in caps?) is the ability to group with others without their permission. Yep, you just select a random nearby person and, unless they’re already grouped or have disabled the setting in their options, click a small icon above their portrait and, willingly or not, you’ve got yourself an instant buddy to join your fledgling party. A great technique for burning through those kill quests quickly, I can tell you.

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The Soul System aka Class Flexibility

Soul System

The soul system. A min/maxers wet dream.

I’ve been playing RIFT a fair bit and enjoying it quite a lot. In fact, probably more than a lot. It doesn’t offer up much that I haven’t seen before and instead it’s seemingly opted to amalgamate all of the best bits of all the other MMOs out there together into one. I reckon I’ve spent a far amount of time during my playtime guessing the game that a particular feature came from (spot the feature: quite a fun little mini-game). Still though, RIFT is good, even very good perhaps. Being unoriginal doesn’t necessarily mean bad or disingenuous. However one of the things it has brought to the table that I’ve never seen before and is, as far as I know it, totally original is its soul system. It’s unique and exclusive to RIFT.

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My Dream MMO

My Dream MMO

My real dreams are usually a little more bizarre and sexual frustrated than this

I have a dream. It’s a dream of a perfect MMO. Impossible to craft, inconceivable to design, impractical to fund and insurmountable to develop, my ultimate MMO will never be made. For years I’ve kept its budding ideas enclosed inside my brain, fearful that if ever slipped out it might kill someone with its awesomeness or result in me being locked away in an asylum for corrupting the innocent. But Copra asked. And so shall he receive.

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