Six MMO Concepts I’d Love To See Revisited

It seems unfair to me sometimes how the MMO genre latches on to some features while letting others fall to the ground after only one try.  Here are six MMO concepts I’d love to see picked up, dusted off, tweaked, and used in future (or even current) titles:

  1. Tellings (A Tale in the Desert) – ATITD is fairly unique in that it hits the reset button on the game every year or two, wiping clean all of the achievements and starting a new version of the game.  Although I can see this freaking out a whole bunch of players in other titles, I think there might be a lot of appeal in hitting a reset switch in a MMO, as long as the next iteration is different someway and the game is built around it.  After all, people are just excited as all get out over WoW’s earth-rending reshaping of the Cataclysm, and that’s as close to a reset switch as that game’s ever going to get.
  2. Diplomacy (Vanguard) – It’s an interesting idea to treat conversations and interactions with NPCs as a full-blow part of the game, with strategies and levels and whatnot.  If someone can figure out how to do social/diplomacy right in a MMO, they might be on to something.
  3. Trophies (Warhammer Online) – WAR had a lot of neat ideas, but I really grew attached to the trophy system — trinkets you could collect that you could affix to different places on your armor to further customize the look of your character.  It was a shame that too many of the trophies in WAR were tiny and/or only collectible at the end game, but they were still neat to get and show off.
  4. Ascension (Kingdom of Loathing) – A different kind of reset than A Tale in the Desert’s tellings, Kingdom of Loathing encourages (but doesn’t force) players to go through a process called “Ascension” at the end game.  It essentially allows you to start a new character (and pick a new class) while retaining special items and bonus abilities depending on how you played the game.  Looping through ascensions has given KoL an infinite leveling experience while giving players a good reason why they should reboot their toons now and then.
  5. Pay For The Box/Expansions Only, Play Forever Free (Guild Wars) – Explain to me why this model, which has been both insanely popular and profitable for ArenaNet, hasn’t been copied and reused anywhere else in the MMO world?  People love it, and if the game is expanded enough, it continues to make the dough.  (Of course, as I write this I hear that Global Agenda just switched to this model, so there you go.)
  6. A Dungeon-Centric Format (DDO) – Many people disliked how DDO skewed from the typical MMO format (open world with a few dungeons vs. a city hub with tons of dungeons), but there’s something worth revisiting with this, especially now that DDO’s gotten its second wind.  A focus away from an explorable open world means more time to create and develop specific instance experiences, and that might be a good core of a future game.

7 thoughts on “Six MMO Concepts I’d Love To See Revisited

  1. Tesh June 25, 2010 / 10:13 am

    I’ve written about cyclic design before, a cycle of MMO rebirth every so often. I tend to throw in a Legend of the Five Rings rider, where player action in aggregate changes the game design and lore of the next iteration… but yeah, I really like the idea.

    I’ve also been a proponent of the Guild Wars model, as well as the more fractured version seen in DDO and W101. I will buy content and play it. I will not pay for a subscription. ArenaNet has more of my money than any sub-exclusive game ever will. The interesting thing we’ve seen lately is that, again pointing to DDO and W101, subs and content purchases can coexist in peace. Guild Wars is still high in my book, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll see more hybrids before we see more of the GW model. That’s not a bad thing.

  2. Jeremy S. June 25, 2010 / 10:34 am

    The diplomacy idea is really good, and I think it’s such an interesting way that could be utilized in other fashions.

  3. Bronte June 25, 2010 / 10:50 am

    I have been monitoring Global Agenda for a while. I wasn’t interested in the game, till I read the 140+ odd pages of background story the authors had painstakingly crafted for the world. And being a lore whore, I was instantly hooked. Now Massively reports they are moving away from subscriptions [http://www.massively.com/2010/06/24/global-agenda-going-subscription-free/], and i just might try it out!

  4. boatorious June 25, 2010 / 10:54 am

    Public Quests from WAR, when you actually had the players to complete them, were about the most fun I’ve had in an MMO. They have a lot more “encounter variety” than either quests or instanced dungeons tend to have.

    They also have a much different approach to grouping than, say, raids do in WoW. In raiding the weakest link can blow the encounter for everyone, so there is a lot of pressure and drama involved. There is also this dynamic where the good players carry the bad players, which I feel is disappointing for both groups. In a Public Quest a bad player is rewarded less, but this is more fair (despite what they may say I believe players like fair rewards) and it’s feedback that can help them improve. There’s also little reason to be “mad” at a bad PQ player, as long as you have enough firepower to win the PQ.

  5. Dblade June 25, 2010 / 12:44 pm

    I don’t think tellings work well because players constantly enter the game at different times. If you start playing 2 months before a server reset, you have very little incentive to play over wait for it to flip. Guild wars..eh, i don’t know. Everyone keeps holding it as a model but i think GW 2 is going to start showing the flaws of it, as they try and move to a more PvE experience. They won’t be able to make content fast enough without subs or other recurring payments, especially as dev costs keep rising.

  6. Tesh June 25, 2010 / 5:08 pm

    Dblade, perhaps they won’t be able to crank out at the same torrentiall pace as WoW’s updates, but the GW model has the virtue of being far more honest about where your money goes. $50 (or whatever) for X content, period. If players want more, they have to pay for more. That’s the point I’m looking forward to; an honest representation of what I get for my dime, rather than a sliding scale of value based on my consumption rate.

    “Fast enough” varies so wildly as to be useless. Better in my mind to give fair value of content for cost.

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