This is going to be a pie in the sky post where I will list the features and or systems that in my opinion will need to be present in an MMO at release to be considered a MMO of the next generation. There is the potential for a current generation MMO to transition into a Next-Gen MMO through patching but then that MMO will be a transitory MMO present and part of both generations rather than being of only either generation.
Servers? What are Servers?
After writing the title and thinking about how to say it I realized that there will still need to be a few “meta” servers/settings but not as we see them to day, i.e. no Elune, Farstriders, Sentinels, ect…. The servers of TNG will be PVP, PVE, RP-PVE, RP-PVP with language specifications of the standard form of communication between players.
To my knowledge at the moment there is only one MMO that really does something like this now and it is EVE-Online. However due to the steep learning curve and other in game factors EVE has not really become mainstream. Griefing Bottom feeder behavior being the normally accepted method of play there is the main one.
Player Based Rewards
To borrow a bit from the matrix here is a modified quote. I grabbed the quote from IMDB before modification.
Spoon boy: Do not try and reward the Character. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no Character.
Neo: There is no Character?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the Character that is rewarded, it is only the Player.
This is extremely important when a company owns more than one online game or a game that encourages multiple accounts do to some in-game limit or restriction. I shake my fist in anger at Turbine on this one especially as Turbine points for LotRO is different from Turbine points for DDO. Turbine get your shit in order and converge your systems.
Several games sets are already set up in a way that will eventually allow for this type of reward system.
- Battle.Net 2.0
- Sony Station
- EA Origin
- XBox Live
- Play Station Network
I am sure there are a few others but these are the ones that quickly come to mind. The more options, rewards and setting that are set at the meta-account level and not the individual game level the longer and more likely companies will keep some form of subscription revenue for their projects, this is doubly so if you have cross game rewards or rewards earned for current and other games at the same time. We are already very familiar with this type of set-up for the collector’s editions of Blizzard products having something for each of the games currently on Battle.Net at time of launch.
As in Keep It Simple Stupid Logistics. This is a vague need but is critical in current and future games, it is how easy to use and powerful are the tools built into the game to ease working together. The bare minimum of yes we can have groups, raids and guilds is not enough anymore. Rift’s dynamic open world group/raid system was a step in the right direction but was sometime a real pain in the ass (PITA). As hot as the flames in the flame ware about the Looking For Group and Looking For Raid systems in World of Warcraft are those are 2 very powerful and useful systems to have available to a games player base. Most WoW players in some ways rightfully decry how horrible it has made the community, because it allows for PA Internet Fuckwad Theory which is correct for the most part. However this is the one advantage of the One or Few Worlds and Infinite Shards setup mentioned in the first requirement.
The Looking for Guild System in WoW was also a nice addition to the game and not spamming General/Trade/LF (Guild/Group) channels. It is a system much like how EVE-Online works for Corporation Recruitment the equivalent of Guilds in most games. However it is a single search system where the player looks for a guild and applies. This really needs to be expanded to be bi-directional search especially after the Gamer Tag System is implemented, this then allows both the player and guild to post their interest in being recruited or applied to. Then officers in the guild can search to see who is looking for a new guild and see who has time availability that matches the guild so they can recruit from both in server and cross server. This actually leads into another big requirement for a true Next Generation MMO.
Essentially what this means is that groups, guilds, any other organization in-game is made of players and not characters. This also means that the player can belong to many guilds, yes this is technically true today because the guild structure is tied to the character but that is so EQ-esque. This would allow the player to be in multiple guilds and see chat of each at the same time, just a new channel per guild. Yes /g will not be as simple anymore but then those can be preferences per chat window if need be. There will need to be iteration on this of course but it is something needed in future games.
This could be as simple as EVE-Online’s current Alliance/Corporation setup which is a tree or something completely new that allows guilds or other player organizations to map out their relationships with one another and allow for dynamic shared/combined guild chat channels. You could then have the same large group of players that have their characters organized by what they want to do with them, PVE, RP, PVP but still communicate no matter what Toon/World/Shard they are on. The more tools to simply bring people together the better, just as long as it is not forced and can be opted into not out of.
Well this is a good start, I will go into more detail on each of these in future posts. I wanted to get the general concepts out there first before getting deep in to examples and or ways some of these could be incorporated into existing games that I am familiar with.