And you thought that this was only a Minecraft blog. In part because I like having crap to talk about and in part because I really don't want to prepare for the audit that I'm working on, I thought that I'd take a couple minutes to bring up something that is really bothering me.
Crash and Drus are all over TOR like shit on rice waiting for it to come out whenever that will be, but the more I look at the game the more I'm worried that it's going to be a steaming pile of crap. I mean I want it to be great but seriously I'm worried, and seeing the Flashpoint movie really drove home my fears, this is Star Wars WoW!
WoW is and was a great game. I spent 5 years playing it and I enjoyed most of my time with it. It's a great game that took the MMO thing and flipped it on it's side. It had quests that were purposeful and could get you to the end of the game, that you could do either alone or with friends. Being able to play the MMO solo was a great thing for me personally because my friends were around but I didn't HAVE to play with them. I mean for anyone to say that an MMO should require you to play with other people is just fucking stupid for two reasons. First no game should tell you HOW to play it, it's a game, a toy and you should be allowed to enjoy it the way you want, the more ways that you can enjoy it the better the game in my opinion. Granted no game can be everything to everyone, but the more it allows you to do, rather than tells you to do, the better. The second reason is that MMO's kind of simulate life in another world, well if we were using the RL example then say I want to go to the market for a gallon of milk, by the strict MMO model, I'd have to bring a friend with me every time, just lame if you ask me.
Either way games are supposed to be fun, I enjoy the MMO aspect where everyone is around doing their thing in the world that I'm playing in regardless of if I decide that I want to interact with those people. Seeing people around doing stuff brings it to life in a way that no single player game is going to be able to do with programmed NPC's, case in point Oblivion.
But that's all great and not what is bothering me about TOR. Now TOR is being made by Bioware so it's going to be a good game, they don't make crap, much like Blizzard. But everything that I see just tells me that they are using the WoW model and just polishing that up, maybe throwing some story elements to it. You know what? I don't want to play WoW, and when I mean WoW it's not the story, it's the game itself. Lorewise I'd play WoW for that element, I have no problem with that, it's the gameplay, it's the find an NPC with a ! over his head and then go kill 10 something to return to NPC with a ? to get a reward. It was fun, it was rewarding, it was a grind that I enjoyed, but come on is that all there is?
My fear is that TOR is going to only be quests, I mean I don't have the answers on how you make a more compelling MMO, but I'm not a developer either so I don't have to come up with an answer. The point is that TOR is going to be WoW, just prettier, but at it's core the gameplay of doing quests and raising a character looks similar. I said similar, I haven't played it or seen it, so it's speculation at this point.
The other thing that bothers me, a lot. Is the Flashpoints. I watched the trailer and I was seriously disappointed, oh wow you have an NPC telling me the backstory on why I'm doing an instance, big whoop! I also read that if you do certain sub-quests in the "instance" then it will change the boss fight, again so what? Once the best method is found, every instance will be ran exactly the same, just as in WoW and any sub-quests will become required by any PUG group. There will once again be a right and a wrong way to play the game, and don't even get me started on character builds in WoW.
It's time for a revolution to take place, we need the next generation of MMO's to hit, not more retreads of WoW. Maybe TOR will blow me away and I'll have been worried for nothing, but as of now I haven't seen anything that says the gameplay is different than what we've already got in WoW. Again it will be better than WoW because it will take the story telling to the next level and that's cool, but if it has ! and ? NPC's in it, have we really evolved to the next generation?
On my wish list, is a game where I'm in a world playing my game and everyone else is playing the game too and at times our online lives will intersect. I want to see other people playing and know that stuff is going on without me, but what is the dynamic that is going to make it awesome? Maybe it's just me, maybe I've outgrown gaming as it exists today. I think we're at a point where a game can deliver a unique story to each individual playing it where you can't just go on youtube or wiki and find out how to do it, maybe not.
I'll use MC as an example. The three of us play the game on our server and pretty much do our own thing, but we still interact with each other from time to time. Our experiences in the game are unique to us, it's impossible for one of us to do the exact same thing that the other one did, unless of course that we want to. The game even in multiplayer is about our individual experience, better yet what we do has effects on the world around us. You can't do that in an MMO because it would be constantly changing for anyone joining. Or could you???
If the framework was established for a server couldn't the world be left to do it's thing while the rules of the world were established by the software, thus expansions and patches would be made to the gameplay itself, not so much the world? Imagine say 10 MC servers with 100 people on each of them (yes I know I'd have to add a lot of 0's to those totals) but each world would evolve differently with governments forming, the landscape changing as time went by, add in player programed NPC's and vendors and you have the most dynamic online world ever imagined. Again I'm not a developer so I don't even know if it's possible realistically, but we can dream. Otherwise it's back to the treadmill.
Let's imagine a grander MMO.