Blog Azeroth – Shared Topic for the week of May 23nd, 2011
Shared Topic Idea: Making Your Own MMO
If you didn’t have to worry about finance, what MMO would you make? What lessons would you take from WoW or other games? What would you do to attract players?
Long ago I played a text-based science fiction style mmo called Space Federation. (Much to my surprise, a quick search told me that the game is still up and running half a decade after I left.) I remember liking certain aspects of it, especially the trading market, which I made a goodly fortune at. I was not so good at the combat system and lost frequently. At the same time that I was manipulating grain prices in that game, I was also reading a little novel by Orson Scott Card. These two things combined in my mind and have rattled around in the background of my thoughts for years.
Imagine a space-based mmo with very loose and open-ended goals, much like I imagine EVE Online to be. There would be large expanses of universe to explore and exploit, a network of inhabited planets with infrastructure and technology, and fleets of ships ready to take you anywhere and do anything.
A twist, however, makes an appearance. As you go through the game, most of your time would be spent in wide-angle-lens perspective. You would move your ship or ships around, train skills, gather goods for trade, etc. etc. But, when combat events occur, there would be a slight delay as a completely different style of game takes over. Now, instead of looking down on things as through playing a strategy mmo, you would be flung into the cockpit of your ship to duke it out with the enemy first-person-shooter style.
As a battle event begins, a region around the ships in question is ‘cordoned off’ as a war area. In the first-person pilot game, this region would be the bounds of your engagement area. If you stray outside of it, you flee the engagement and return to the strategy level. In the strategy level, a red zone would show up to indicate the edges of the engagement. If you wished to enter the conflict, you could bring your forces up to the edge and get loaded into the pilot level.
Now, some people would not want to necessarily play both parts all the time. The strategy portion of the game would be mandatory, as it makes up the bulk of time and is the conduit through which you work on your character, make money, move around, etc. The pilot portion would be optional on a battle-to-battle basis. At the start of each encounter, a little screen would pop up asking if you wished to take manual control or if you would prefer to have your autopilot manage the fight for you. The autopilot option would act in your stead based one predefined routines and some player-chosen gambits, or something along those lines.
In the pilot perspective, if you chose to fight and your enemy chose to let the autopilot take control, you would enter the dogfight and go up against computer-controlled defenses. It would become a single-player pilot game instead of a multi-player pilot game.
This autopilot system would also set a minimum threshold of self-defense for all ships. As I envision it, the game universe would always contain your character and your forces wherever they happen to be. If you aren’t logged on and someone chooses to attack you, the autopilot would take control and defend you as best as possible until you return.
To make things even more interesting, the game could be multi-platform with a stripped out version of the pilot level game available on consoles. Players with that version of the game would connect to the server and act as either mercenary fighters, purchased by wealthier players to fill the fighter craft in their fleets, or as autopilot control for those that choose not to fight for themselves. The console user base would have a chance to play an exciting space shooter and in the process add some interesting human elements to the conflicts going on in the meta-game for the strategy players.
Alright, I think that is enough on this topic for now, but I would be most interested in what all of you have to say about something like this. A hybrid game of space strategy and dog-fighter would be fun for me… how about you?