My Hopes and Dreams For 2009 and Beyond…

***cue mystical music***

Top Ten lists seem to be all the rage this time of year.  Usually these involve “bold predictions” about the next year or they look back and list all of the cream or the crap from the past.

I’m not one to delve much into the past.  I got a D- in Bold Predictions 101 and there are enough Top Ten lists out and about already.   I’m not going to go there.  Instead, I’m going to talk about what I personally would like to see from my favorite genre and the community I love for the upcoming year.  Some serious.  Some…not so much.

Here are all of my hopes and dreams for 2009 and beyond… *cough*

A Fundamental Shift in Design

Let’s face it.  The basic design of these games hasn’t changed much in the past four to five years.

Practically every single MMO released in this time period is the same game with slightly different wrapping paper around it.  You have a character.  That character has a set of skills that you can improve over time by leveling up.  Skill trees allow you to customize your character class somewhat.  There are “kill ten bunnies” quests, “deliver this piece of junk here” quests, dungeons with a boss mob to smite, poorly implemented crafting systems, etc. All of these are designed to assist you in the “advancement” of your character.

For the most part, nothing you do in the game can alter the world.  If I kill those ten bunny rabbits, those rabbits will come back and terrorize the world again.  That same piece of junk will need to be delivered.  The worlds are static.

This design rut that MMO developers have been in needs to come to an end.

Perhaps we need to see a return to a skill based system?  Maybe it’s time to get rid of questing altogether and force the players to come up with their own stories?  Can we start allowing the players to shape and mold the world they play in as they see fit with as few restrictions as possible?

Whatever the solutions are, one thing is clear…something has to change or more and more of these games will be destined for mediocrity.

In the meantime, we’re going to have to make our own fun and there is no reason why we can’t…

Break the Rules

A lot of people can’t stand guilds like GoonSwarm in EvE Online, but they are players after my own heart.  They GET IT and the average MMO gamer can learn a lot from their antics.

If designers are unwilling to change how they craft MMO’s, then we need to show them what happens when we destroy these little playgrounds and a reshape them in ways that they never thought possible.

As I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, you don’t HAVE to grind for levels or gold every time you play.  Skip some of those stupid quests, go find a virtual mountain and see if you can climb it.  If/when you reach the top of that mountain, see what can be done from there.

Leave the Keyboard and Bring on the Controllers

Promises have been made in the past about bringing AAA MMO titles to consoles, but so far we haven’t seen any results.

If a company can bring a quality MMO to a console, it would A)  introduce a whole new group of players to MMO’s and B) potentially bring some new innovations to a genre that severely needs them.

Sony has The Agency, Free Realms, and DC Universe Online all slated for release on the PS3.  Cryptic is planning on bringing Champions and Star Trek Online to the 360.

Think about it. Voice chat is becoming more and more prevalent.   Instead of hunching over a keyboard and mouse, you could lounge on your couch in front of your big HDTV.   Gone will be the need for dozens of different keyboard combinations in order to execute commands.  I think we’re ready for that kind of change.

Speaking of change…

Let’s Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Bomb (RMT/microtransactions)

RMT/Microtransactions are going to start appearing in more and more AAA titles over the next few years and we can either start accepting that fact or quit.  Plain and simple.

I admit that I used to be on the Will Smith “Aw hell nah” side of things when it came to this topic.  Part of me still is, but I realize that it’s here stay.

Due to our craptacular economy, I’m not positive that it will catch as much steam in the next year or so as it could have in better conditions.  Don’t count it out though.  Gamers are funny people.  We tend find a way to spend cash on games even in the worst of times.

Cease the Liberal use of “Epic FailWhen it Comes to Criticism

Since when has failure ever NOT been epic?  According to the MMO community, any perceived failure (no matter how trivial), is ALWAYS epic in scope.

I propose a cease fire on the use of the term “Epic Fail” when it comes to ranting about your favorite (or least favorite) MMO, other games, or whatever other thing you are passionate about.

In the end, it will be an Epic Win for all.

Have a save and wonderful New Year!

4 Comments to My Hopes and Dreams For 2009 and Beyond…

  1. Julien's Gravatar Julien
    January 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I like #1, as I feel MMOs need to have changing worlds more often. There is an MMO other than TOR which also promises changing worlds. It’s called “The Day”. Players can go back in time and change events in the “present” of somewhere in 2500. Whole cities and global events would change. At any rate what we want, I think, is easier said than done so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
    #2: I have been and always will be a PC gamer. I really tried to get into couch console-ing with my wii and 360 but in all honesty i feel that the motions are much less precise than with a mouse and keyboard. You talk about playing on a couch as if it’s an improvement, but I respectfully disagree. Try managing your bank or auctions with a controller. Try using web guides and resources in a separate window on an Xbox. I like my PC and I’m stickin’ to it.
    #3: RMT sucks. I could give you a hundred reasons why, but you probably know them all already.

    On that note, a happy new year to everyone! And I hope your headaches weren’t as bad as mine this morning :)

  2. January 5, 2009 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    Devs (and more importantly, their financial backers) are scared silly of the idea of giving players power in the world. They want good little lemming subscribers for their pretty treadmills, not players who will mold the world to their way of thinking. See, giving players power means someone, somewhere will feel griefed. There’s no way around it, especially if there are any death penalties, no retribution mechanics, ganking and player corpse looting.

    A mutable MMO will find an audience, certainly. I highly doubt that it will be adopted by the “carebear” mainstream. Those are the players who complained about the WoW zombie event, after all. The current MMO player base is conditioned like Pavlov’s pets, content to do their Daily Quest chores and grind out their rep. Alterations to that happy little routine are stressful.

    I can empathize with both sides, actually. Sometimes I want the Cheers experience, where very little changes and everyone knows my name, sometimes I want to wield the power that only a fantasy world can allow. The two really don’t play nice together, but there’s nothing wrong with playing more than one game, either.

    …unless, of course, you’re paying through the nose to do so. Subscription games rapidly hit the “diminishing returns” troubles when you’re paying for more than one.

  3. January 6, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Yeah I’ve cancelled all my MMO subs because I finally realized that they’re all the same damn game. EVE Online is the only one that’s different anymore.

    We seriously need to go through a major shift before I’ll play anything other than EVE again… S.S.D.D man.

  1. By on January 12, 2009 at 6:49 am
  2. By on January 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm

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