Every dev dreams, at some point or the other, of making an MMO.
Another WoW – killer? Pfft. Any MMORPG gamer with at least a mild understanding of the game development process will realize one thing: You can’t out-wow WoW. World of Warcraft, *the largest MMO in history*, has mega-millions behind it. And, for better or the worse, has maintained an iron grip on the MMO industry [since 2004] and shaped an entire generation of gamers to believe that themeparks are a part of all MMOs and that every game should have auto-route. The world’s littered with F2P and paid MMO’s that blatantly implement the same mechanics WoW introduced in ’04. Hell, even SWTOR aka TORtanic is pretty much the same.
Besides, if you had that money, wouldn’t you want to make something different?
I guess this is where I pull out the “Indies FTW” speech.
Truth be told, indie is not a path you want to tread for a fully-fledged 3D MMO. An MMORPG is not a game in the traditional release-it-and-we’re-done sense. It’s a product; nay, it’s a service. You pay for servers so your world is available. You pay customer support staff. You pay GMs. You pay large amounts. Every month. At some point you either sell yourself to a publisher, and watch them turn the game away from your vision into “more marketable” crap, or you face reality and pull the plug.
Or you succeed. Darkfall, Eve Online, even the legendary Meridian59 were indies that put out a good premise and made it through.
Wait, take a step back. Notice anything similar about those games?
Duh: They’re not WoW.
Or, to take it to a deeper level: they’re not themeparks. They’re more sandbox that WoW or the countless similar MMOs are. And each of them has features that stand out from the norm at the time. We know what Eve’s like. Darkfall? The name may suggest a generic fantasy setting, but this one hearkens back to the old days of thrills and chills: open PvP, masssive, massive battles, no leading players on rails. Not that “Open PvP” line, which deliberately sets it aside from the majority. This not only cuts out the hordes of casual players [not that good], but also provides a genuine thrill to playing the game that modern MMO’s have all but lost. Eve has the same thing going. They provide genuine danger, and therefore it’s MUCH more rewarding when you complete a quest or a shipping run. MUCH. MORE.
Even better: it gives players a way of contributing to the gameplay. Modern MMO’s often eschew this route and prefer to release patches with new dungeons, continents, and classes, inevitably leading to more and more grind until players simply give up.
In short: they’ve got better [more hardcore, thrilling] gameplay that leads to player retention.
What’s the alternate? Gameplay aimed for the average MMO gamer. I.e: a fantasy world, limited PvP, utterly n00b-friendly, a quest system that’s essentially a guided A to B walkthrough. Result: you’re competing with WoW, Rift, and 90% of AAA AND F2P MMORPGS. You’ll have to drag people away from these games to your own one, which is too similar for most of them to bother with – hey, same experience, right? Underfunded in comparison, less established, has less players….the list goes on and on.
I suppose the easiest thing I could do is say: “Hey, if you’re making an indie MMORPG, have PvP. Real PvP: Pking included. All the others are just glorified grindfests with minimal punishment for death, so you can easily nab the ones that want a real game.”
Not exactly elegant, but it’s a start. Wink.
Disclaimer: No, I am not a zombie. I’ve simply been away, completely enmeshed in exams. It’s hard to contribute anything meaningful to this blog when I’m depressed over my Mathematics paper or booting up some game to blow off some steam. My exams aren’t over, but …well, I’m back. Time to get my rants rolling again! Thanks go out to you and everyone else reading this humble blog o’ mine.
- Pick a group, design for it, don’t get greedy (syncaine.com)
- The MMO genre is a niche space, entry 25603 (syncaine.com)
- GW2: One step forward, two steps back for the genre (syncaine.com)
- Do Older MMOs Have The Advantage? (weflyspitfires.com)