Thursday, September 4, 2008

More Old Stuff

This one I also wrote in 2004. I was still heavily into Final Fantasy XI at this point. The raw idea itself has merit I think, although the implementation would need some serious work most likely. I will probably revisit this at some point in the future, maybe merge it with some of my other thoughts on this type of mmo design.

A lot of videogames place you in the position of a hero/heroine. Granting you powers beyond the ken of mere mortals. Whether it is the ability to shoot fireballs out of your hands, fly through the air, slow down time...the list goes on. But, not only do you get their abilities, you get to BE a hero. Saving the world, rescuing the damsel in distress, and helping people in need. This is all great, but have you ever felt a sense
of urgency while doing it? The people you are saving are all AI routines. They don't have feelings or anything to lose that they don't when you switch off your console or PC. You're basically riding on the urge to complete the game. If the game is well written you might develop an attachment for some of the characters, but even then, you don't really feel like you're under pressure to not fail in your task.

What if you could be the hero for other human players? In a massively multiplayer online world, other players have a vested interest in their characters and belongings, for the simple fact that they put in time and effort to get to the point that they are in the game. It could be very interesting for a world like that to come under threat from some foe. A foe that can bring about the annihilation of everything the player-base
have built up. Towns, items, would give those in the position of being heroes (maybe the highest level players, or those that are regular contributors)something to fight for, not actual lives (and who would want to?), but something more tangible than the cries of yet another computer-controlled character telling you that your character is part of some prophecy. How cool would it be to be in a village and see the 'chosen' party come round to your shop? You could give them weapons for free and wish them luck. Join them even if you were high enough level. Losing would not be an option in this case, well, it would be, but for the
wrong reasons. Of course the quest would have to be tweaked to make sure that the players could actually get through it, but having harsher consequences for dying could also lead to some interesting gameplay
elements as well. Watching the trailer for Otogi 2 inspired this post, and hence the next thing that I think could be added...the ressurection of 'legendary players' that have fallen in major battles to serve the player base. If a high level player lost his character in one of these quests with high stakes, then he could be added to an ongoing legend of the game. He might have to make a new character, maybe with some perks to make his
new start easier, but if another quest was to come up, the option to resurrect his character could be provided. The way Raikoh is called back from the dead to deal with a new threat. It will provide a wonderful
framework for player-created mythologies to be created and perpetuated. I think it's something that could be looked into. Of course this is not to say that being the main character in an offline game is a rubbish idea, or
that all online games should have this feature worked in, but I think it would provide variety and make players feel more important in a world that they dedicate a bit of their free time to.  

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