Random musings and ponderingsJanuary 14, 2010 at 7:06 am | Posted in General | 3 Comments
Tags: eve online, fake tag here, game design, instances, learning a new MMO
I’ve had a couple of ponders over the last couple of days, regarding the nature of MMO gaming, and whilst there is absolutely no common thread to this post, it’s currently the way my brain is working… Enjoy the ramble for what it is…
A friend pointed me in the direction of Evemon the other night, and I am slowly trying to get my head around it. It seems an invaluable aid to figuring out what you need to do in order to do the thing you want, with a minimum of pain and hassle.
It made me wonder, because it was the first step towards meta-gaming in Eve Online. I don’t mean meta-gaming in its rather perjorative “lie blatantly to everyone, especially your mates” way, but using outside resources to help me in game. And whilst I’ve done that in the past with things such as Carbonite Quest and hunting through WowHead whilst playing World of Warcraft, this feels like a real step up.
For a start, using a quest helper and a website to find easy and quick ways of completing a quest is one thing; this is recommending a route through character advancement to a specific end. It feels like the difference between getting a self-help book out of the library, and hiring a lifestyle guru.
I’m not knocking it; it’s a sizeable and impressive piece of work, and it shines a powerful light into the impenetrable-seeming skill and equipment tangle that is one of Eve Online’s wonderful and glorious strengths. Once you can learn to find your way through it, that is.
I’ve also been playing some Left 4 Dead 2. Now it’s not an MMO, so I don’t want to talk about it overmuch, but it does make me wonder about what it does, when compared to MMO gaming.
Left 4 Dead 2 (or L4D2, as all the cool kids are calling it) has a movie-styled storyline, through various campaigns that are themed by their environs. Each campaign is made up of shorter journeys, from one safe house to another. Studded around these journeys are specific set-piece events, which make the game more than just killing zombies to while away the journey from Safe-House A to Safe-House B.
I’m pretty sure that you’ve seen the connection between Left 4 Dead 2 and MMO gaming. Yes, it’s instanced dungeons, on the simplest scale.
There’s no gating, no equipment requirements, and the gameplay doesn’t require anyone to dance the hokey-cokey, or similar arcane shenanigans in order to succeed.
It even does away with classes. It appears that in the world of the apocalypse, all toons are equal.
It has distilled grouped instancing to the core elements; a lobby area to assemble, a method of selecting the instance of choice, and then off you go, managing your resources as you strive to overcome the challenges in the instance.
There may not be the standard boss fight, but there are enough set pieces and special zombie types to make a definate climax to sequences of action, and especially to the end of a compaign.
Is this one way that MMOs might develop? If the persistent world gets in the way of casual play, then get rid of it… The lobby/action style of play allows us to play whatever we want, without having to worry about any sort of time delay. And the episodic nature means we can drop in and out, where we want to or need to. The choice to not have “bound” equipment or character classes allows entry to any of the instances, with neither gear snobbery nor gating. And you’ll never have to wait for the healer…
It’s extreme, and it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but could games go there? DnD Online went some of the way, and I don’t know enough about Guild Wars but I believe that it too has some similar system. And yes, Left 4 Dead 2 is a first person shooter, but it would be easy enough to have some non-level-based system of combat skills to replace the first persons shootiness.
And from instances, to raids..?