MMo's: the fatal road they never walked

Can we embrace the change anymore?

What happened to innovation in interactivity? Did it disappear? No, someone said nothing is destroyed. It just abandoned the weirder, damper, larger grounds of total game structure and headed to accessibility and encompass-all technical elements, more reassuring grounds. What's lost is that weird pioneering. It was uncomfortable, it got us games such as Alone in the Dark, Little big Adventure and Dune, games that are essentially awkward though fun and great. I bet that's how Infocom and Sierra and Origin and so on have felt all the time. To rethink basics. Years trod on, we built our plastic floor, nomore rincing the bog.

Enough with offline games. This is about online worlds. Hey it seems innovation stopped right with the overwhelming invention of virtual worlds(1998 .ca), which was an incredible break-through, way, waaay ahead of its time because 10 years later we aren't ready, we're not even willing to begin questioning the basic meaning of virtuality. We are back in a frontier, but built a small haven of plastic floor around a vast, damp and weird cosmos. It seems we were scared by its(omg there is no God then) possibilities. This is arbitrary historical rehash junk. Don't mind it too much, i don't want to tell you how history went, just pick the "ha-ha!" shock of recognition flavor of it.

Enough with wondering why innovation got hid by market experts. I wanna tell you where it is, but it must be someplace you will recognize just by sheer evidence. We gotta establish common grounds. I have no idea why i should write articles for people to read them, if not to establish a network of common ideas. Why else does one write? To persuade you that i'm awesome? A fricking smart-ass of a girl thinks so(but she don't love me, i got limits too), so i don't wanna know if you believe it too.

Innovate is latin, i studied latin, i AM latin myself.
Innovo, -as, -avi, -atum, -are: to renew, make something new afresh.

Innovation in MMO is such an exciting concept because an online game should be nothing but one of the static worlds created by writers in the past years and decades and millennia that simply becomes alive. MMO's shouldn't have internal genre standards but simply take everything from that written world and make it virtual, and to make it virtual you can pick traces of virtuality in the written stories as well, you don't need to make stuff up even there. A Warhammer, a Star Trek MMO is not a typical "game", with normal genre elements and with star trek and warhammer gimmicks, it's THAT world as it was imagined by its creator, with no influence from "us" other than persistancy.

The above idea is already innovative(innovative but more realistically most persons forgot that MMO's were meant to do this). To it add that since a good MMO is an artistically/creative world + the gift of life,or persistancy, it's only natural to assume that the MMO genre has no element in itself, except that, virtual life, living virtuality. Mkay?

MMO is almost not a genre; would you call "giving life" something directly related to "gameplay"? No, it's just "a start", a sparkle that creators bestow on their peoples. Is the famous Origins' motto "We create worlds" meaning still something hermetic and obscure? Oh yes they were the ones who invented MMO's.

Let's start with the examples of turning books into life. 

Star Wars is mainly conspiracies to get total political power. A MMO about star wars should be mostly about that. A player(or group of) that spends days and nights concocting a way to obtain power, spends months at the galactic senate, try to bribe generals, gain favors in planets, gather separatists, build super offensive weapons to "control sectors without the use of bureaucracy", because "fear will keep em in order". Its "100% LIVE WORLD" should revolve around a politician who, as Obi Wan said "follows his passions" [...] "aims to please so that others may fund his campaign", and the players around and below these politicians should be young jedi who have to weave their careers and lives and they risk their sanity and damnation. And then face the consequences for having supported a player they thought was good.

See i didn't "invent" anything, it's just what the movies told us. I repeat, i don't want to tell you about my personal point of view on MMO's, this is meant to be common grounds.

The point is that you gotta design a MMO gameplay AROUND the original material.That's the way with MMO's, that's the innovative concept; too bad what really happens is the opposite thing, the original material is glue-patted around the average "MMO-genre" gameplay tropes that i believe don't exist, nobody forces people to apply so-called "MMO elements" upon an MMO. The only acceptable MMO trope is life. Life to Star Trek, life to Warhammer, life, to Herbert's Dune, life to Hamlet, life(back) to a historical period like 1500 Engand, life to the Necromancer, life to Do Androids dream of electric Sheep and oh that'd be good, life to I, Robot. Even in the case of a historical period, all you have to do is collect informations, and just tick it with a magical life-giving wand(don't mean to underestimate this point which of course is the most critical moment).

A MMO about, say, I, Robot shouldn't recycle stuff from other games, it would ruin it instantly. IT should be just players that do what was in the books, but simulated in a live world and where players write their own new tales and adventures and plots that all remotely remaind at their original intention: that's because you can't betray the creator's goals and convictions and that's where a MMO stops being a "total freeform life simulation" and reminds us it is a fictional world and a game after all. It is simple as that, developers should be the gods that give players the "tools" to live NEW stories. It's the future, the natural way for ALL licenses to move on, old written novels(the world they describe) should become alive in everyway, and what were the readers should be the new writers. Only when it's a good old offline game the programmers may discard persistancy, not give players tools to create new stories and just retell the original story in their personal way.

Let's take the most evidently troubled franchise of all, Star Trek: this one has been decadent for the last, uh-wha, 10 years? Why are we unhappy about it? Isn't it even too obviously because WE don't like what those writers wrote, how they interpret that cosmos, how they interpret a world that became rightfully OURS because we bought it piece by pice? Us being unhappy and them being decading shows even too clearly that WE are ready to claim the right to write new stories for 'em. It's the clear way of the future, not innovation, but an epoch-long-waited "social" revolution.

Change is to think differently. Can we do that? Can we settle an appointment for it to take place?

Latest Jobs

Xbox Game Studios

Redmond, Washington
Technical Lighting Artist


Hamburg, Germany
Game Designer - Elvenar

Bandai Namco Mobile

Barcelona, Spain
Principal 3D Animator

Cryptic Studios

Los Gatos, California
Staff Core Software Engineer
More Jobs   


Explore the
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer Newsletter


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more