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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.