Reply To: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

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“… (by Chris Williams)

Mmm…. Really what I was saying is what the ground rules one would have to lay down if he wanted to create something that really was an adventure game and not a role playing or action game. I tend to think in terms that if you try and just blodge one thing about and force it to become something else that it isn’t, you’ll just get a half-assed whatever. So I’m not talking about taking an MMORPG and cutting it down and then trying to add some new stuff in, but rather, that if you wanted to create a new genre (MMOAG) based on traditional adventure games, the first thing one would have to do is accept those limitations before he could go on to actually making a design that could be successful.

It’s true what you say about making a game something it is not and having the results stink…However, one must not limit themselves too much by not budging from a design concept that’s about what an adventure game “should” be. To my knowledge, no one has been successful at making an MMOAG, which means no one has the formula. We know that the MMORPG formula works. Therefore, it would be a good idea to figure out what those elements that make it work are and apply them to an adventure-centric game. But first it needs to be said that content is king. Exploration and puzzle solving can only last so long before you are tired of seeing the same stuff over and over again.

That said, we must also not forget the whole point of multiplayer games: Competition/co-op. Simply being a place people can get together and chat, except this time while playing an adventure game, just won’t cut it. Such a game should have player rankings or ways to increase stats to help give people an incentive to play. As simple as it sounds, it works. I was not kidding about the magic booties…I was at a LAN party and actually witnessed a friend of mine playing EverQuest wait for 3 hours for a monster to spawn that would drop some special item. Turned out to be a pair of magic boots that he couldn’t use because they were outside of his character class. Hahaha. But I digress. The point is, if you can make someone sit at a game for three hours waiting for an item to max out his stats – and that’s not to mention people who give up entire nights to get to the next character level – then it’s safe to say that having such a component in a multiplayer game makes sense to have, because that’s the hook.

Brandon, I like your idea about “quest modules”. Of course, having an engine that allows for easy addition of diverse content that cannot be abused by users, should the system be open to them, is an arduous design task. One would also need a large enough database of quests to keep things interesting. That’s why I floated the idea of user-created content, as I don’t think there’s a core devteam of any size that could keep of with the demands of a system like that on their own. To bump up stats, you could have “quest points”. That is, for every quest you complete, you get X points…Very similar to Sierra’s scoring system, I suppose. Hitting certain point thresholds should open up new and more difficult quests…New maps to explore would be a good idea too. The quests available to each player should be randomized as much as possible to limit trading solutions amongst players, and to allow for a certain amount of replayability. How to do that seamlessly is something I’d think to think about more. I don’t know, maybe you could have something like the enchanted door in KQ2 except it leads each player to someplace different.