Everybody who played games at some point spent some time thinking “If only this game had feature X from game A and feature Y from game B it would be the perfect game!”. Obviously MMOs are not immune to that kind of thinking, in fact, Massively had a column called MMO Blender where the writers would describe their perfect MMOs if they could mix and match features from different existing games. This seemed like an interesting exercise in thought so I decided to create my own FrankenMMO too. I will be just sticking to the mechanical parts though because genre and setting are like ice cream, they are all good in their own ways. While mechanics it is much easier to discuss in an objective way and debate the merits and flaws of each one.
I will try to give examples of games that has the features I am talking about but I am pretty sure I am missing tons of examples. So keep that in mind, please.
Oh, and if anyone needed proof that I should not ever be put in charge of designing an MMO (or any game, actually) then this will be it. Unless someone wants to make the Titanic of MMOs, in that case I am your man! :p
Recently Joseph Skyrim of JVT Workshop made an interesting post about the Halloween event in Age of Conan and the way they presented its story. Basically, he says that since the story is told mostly in instances and the events are a lot smaller in scale it feels like his actions mattered more than in the traditional tropes of MMO where you only feel as much of a hero as the next Joe who slayed the big villain of the week.
That made me think about my recent experiences in Everquest 2 and how what may be a shift for their way of storytelling made it feel like my actions mattered more in that game. So this post will be about that and my thoughts about the other ways that I’ve seem stories told in MMOs through my years playing them. Keep in mind I am not claiming any of these are factually superior or inferior to each other. It is more some thinking aloud and sharing my feelings on these methods. If anything it might be a starter for a good discussion.
Another thing to note is that usually MMOs nowadays employ a mix of all these methods with varying results. So there isn’t any reason any of them should be mutually exclusive nor would I want that. To me they are all different tools with their effectiveness depending a lot more on how the developers uses it than their particular nature.