Monday, June 23, 2008

All Modern MMOs are not WoW Clones

In light of recent comments by Richard Bartle about MMOs being too similar I thought it would be fun to list out why some future games might prove him wrong. Not all new games emulate World of Warcraft despite the popular opinion that says otherwise. Its funny since I bet the professor was probably trying to appeal to believers of the WoW clone theory when he stepped on a landmine. Even though Warhammer is the original IP which spawned Warcraft people get very defensive when you compare the two. In all honesty the two games have very different game mechanics underneath the hood, even if they share a similar paint job.

Professor Bartle also is at a disadvantage since he thinks of designing game worlds like they were still text based. It was a lot easier to program off-the-wall revolutionary ideas for text based games since there were less limitations. Modern games have to worry about graphics engines and physics processing and can't just say depend on pure imagination. Also quite frankly text based games were more niche based and dealt with hobbyists instead of customers. MMOs can't get away with treating their players like some of the old MUD games. Perma Death, world resets, and trapped rooms that deleted all items are just not going to cut it anymore.

I'm off my little rant on the glory days of MUDs, so without further adieu here is what I'm looking forward from future MMOs.

Champions Online
This game has a very strong skill based system which introduces weaknesses at the cost of increasing your power sets. Also very intriguing is the idea of designing your own arch-nemesis who will follow you throughout the game. I've been watching the new episodes of the Venture Brothers and I laugh out loud thinking about being able design a similar superhero/villain conflict in MMO form. This game will introduce player made content and control over lore that I have never seen in any other MMO to date.

Warhammer Online
While Realm vs. Realm combat has been done before in Dark Age of Camelot, I think Warhammer is really changing the entire concept. In the past, a lot of MMOs ignored PvP content since they didn't want to force direct competition between their customers. Warhammer is changing this trend by creating an all encompassing PvP system which doesn't necessarily depend on direct combat. Public Quests, Zones Control, and even Dungeon Running will all be tied together as part of factional warfare. This will be the first game where every player will be participating in PvP in some manner.

Stargate Worlds
I'm not that experienced with MUDs but I believe a majority of them were stuck in the fantasy setting just as much as MMOs are nowadays. In fact I believe the problem was inherited from MUDs which probably relied too often on D&D modules for sources of lore. Its only going take one successful sci-fi MMO to blow this trend away and I eagerly await any game that looks solid enough to accomplish this. If MMOs can break out of their dependency on high fantasy then I think they will have become more "revolutionary" then MUDs in my book.


Changling bob said...

I agree, they aren't all WoW clones. They're all Everquest clones ;) Even the UO clones are dying out (with EVE the notable exception)

Relmstein said...

When you say UO clone do you mean games based on skill systems instead of classes?

I think its easy to point to new MMOs and say they are clones of one game or another because of the popularity of the DIKU mode. It's pretty much defined the MMO genre for us much like it did for the early text based games. I don't think that's bad since genres are generally defined by common characteristics.

Its kind of weird that people complain about MMOs sharing features. I don't see anyone yelling at new FPS games for including machine guns even though its been in every game since Doom.

Changling bob said...

When you say UO clone do you mean games based on skill systems instead of classes?

Precisely so.

The reason people don't complain about FPSes being similar is probably because you can play all of them, whereas you'd be mad or Van Hemlock if you played every MMO. Each person feels the need to defend their MMO, as thats the one they've chosen to sink their time in to the exclusion of the others.

Also, I suspect the complaints that MMOs are similar would be replaced by a very similar quantity if each MMO was different complaining about that fact instead.

Openedge1 said...

A good point about the FPS's _bob.
Take into account, I can pay 7.95 a month or less to play as many different FPS's as I wish.
I will only pay 15 or 30 for my MMO's, and that will only be 2 at max (unless I am playing a freebie, but the freebs want your cash somehow, and make your gameplay a living nightmare of grind otherwise)
If the same mechanics exists in an MMO, it better be fun, or at least have some changes that make it more unique than the other

Like AoC with the combat system, and in your face quest gathering (I like that I get close ups of the NPC's for my quests, and whaddya has a story also)
It may be the same thing as before, but it has been changed up a little...
Good thing

Anonymous said...

WoW is PVE with some PVP
Warhammer is PVP with some PVE

These two concepts are very different. I believe that more players will be interested in PVP online than PVE and expect that War will help to illustrate that trend when it becomes available.

I don't believe Stargate Worlds will succeed for long mainly because its lore is derived from a popular Movie/TV series. I don't think the people who control that content understand MMOs and have yet to see a successful franchise that was started that way.

Relmstein said...

Well if you watch SG-1 the last couple seasons they make multiple references to World of Warcraft. Several of the writers are fans of the game though they don't necessarily have control of the franchise.

Still in general SG-1 never took itself too serious and I think the copyright holders would understand gameplay needs to trump lore in a MMO. I still cringe at how much the limitation of not having magic hurt the class design in LOTR.

Stargate Worlds might not break open the sci-fi doors but I have a feeling it will be the most successful to date which means it just needs 300k to beat EVE Online. I think Starcraft is the holy grail of Sci-fi MMOs and I hope Blizzard is working on it.