You hit the nail square on the head with this:
The problem with Sci fi MMOs is that none of them have been made well with the exception of EVE Online. That said, even by today's standards, EVE Online is outdated and terrible for the casual gamer. Today, gamer's expect a certain quality. What I mean is this:The game must have PvEThe game must have PvPThe game must have 'fast paced' controls (Think of WoW/WAR movement fluidity versus DAOC/EQ1/etc)THe game must have a skill tree which offers a wide range of skills, even if you only use the same 3 most of the time (Again compare WoW to EQ1)The game must allow the player to grow attatched to his/her character. This is th emajor flaw with EVE is that your character is pretty much a little box at the bottom of the screen. Other space games have done it the same way. People need to walk around, heck, even do stuff in both space/land.Some Sci Fi MMOs have met that criteria above, but I don't think they were made well. For example: SWG meets most of that criteria, but it failed. I feel this is because the grind in SWG was very awkward for a new player. I felt as if I killed the same exact mob (not even the same type of mob) for about %60 of my career. Furthermore, it was clunky from the go. Tabula Rasa lacked PvP and also seemed fairly simple. They should have made it a true FPS and kept a niche market since the last game of that type was Planetside.What I propose:Space games have had little success in the past. Jumpgate and Earth and Beyond both flopped not long after release. EVE has had major success but is very niche despite its rather large player base. The best of both space genres should be combined - The realtime controls of Jumpgate and E&B with the complex economy, politics and ship options of EVE. To be more casual, travel times need to be reduced somehow while still allowing players to PvP/Gank in non safe zones. A skill based system should always be used over a level based system with a strong starting set in a given career type. This goes along with the anti-hero type deal. Even in our favorite Sci Fi movies/shows characters are always improving. Look at Daniel Jackson in Stargate at the beginning versus the end. At the end he could actually shoot! Real time controls should not make the game too twitch heavy, however, there should be a certain auto aim component if you are with a given mark of your target. That said, those who can fly well should have an advantage.In addition to the space component, the game would also need a ground component. Perhaps similar to Tabula Rasa or Planetside, depending on how fast paced the developers want to make it. This would allow players to advance in an entirely different skill tree than the space aspect. Furthermore, items could be harvested and there could be a craft aspect for both space and land. There's no reason major PvE battles couldn't be added to the game. We've all seen crazy aliens in space shows, why not fight them? Character customization would be an IMPERATIVE part of the land game. I'm not talking about picking haircuts or facial features (though those are important) as much as having unique/constantly changing armor graphics and giving players a choice. It's one of the things I liked about WoW when I frst started is that I never seemed to have the same armor as other people (though this changes later in the game it seems..)
SW:TOR should fix this problem... so far the game looks quite good, and it seems to avoid falling on the pitfalls of other Sci-Fi MMOs (detailed by the post above me), while learning from Fantasy MMOs and applying that to a familiar, well loved universe.Plus, i've yet to play a Bioware game i didn't like :P
I don't believe that the problem is the genre ... but rather is a failure of design.You can limit the number of available instances ... The Stargate MMO is an example ... an MMO universe similar to Serenity/Firefly ( interplanetary travel inside one star system ) would also work to limit the number of instances/zones needed.Leveling can be handled by substituting skill and reputation. A low skilled and low rep player just ain't going to be allowed to command a battleship, and won't have access to the funds needed to buy one ... but a high rep character commanding a warship will need lower level red shirts ... and might want some that can actually think faster than the AI.It can be made to work ... just needs more thought to design.Edit: in fact, a Serenity 'verse could fit right into the WoW mold ... Brownshirts vs. Union for factions ... make various civil war battles the noob leveling instances.
Great Post - and good responses. I would like to toss out there an idea that came out a While ago that I think would Rock as an MMO for fantasy. Fantasy and Sci-Fi ARE different - but they don't really have to be.FASA proved that with Shadowrun. It was a successful combination of not only races (Orc's, Trolls, Humans, and yes, even Gnomes) but there was also Magic in the world. Mystical as well as shamanistic.Personally, I believe that if someone made a MMO out of Shadowrun, it would become as big as WoW. Not only is the world interesting and fun, but it Too revolves around Quests, and leveling. And, it was not that complex, so easy to adapt to a game. just tossing that out there.
You know, I'm not sure that sci-fi does have the kind of shared heritage that fantasy does. Take the issue of race, for instance. If you do a fantasy world, you're almost certainly riffing off of Tolkien's panoply of races. You will have some version of men, elves, dwarves, goblins, uruk-hai, trolls, and things-that-are-shorter-than-dwarves-but-more-like-Englishmen (humans, elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs, trolls, and gnomes, respectively, in WarCraft). Your races won't be those exactly, but they'll be versions of Tolkien's, and they'll be processed that way. The race that throws off its demonic corruption and returns to its Noble Savage roots is not interesting ... unless the race that does so is the race of orcs, because everybody else's orcs have been irredeemably barbaric. The fact that WarCraft orcs are green-skinned aliens from outer space instead of genetically engineered super-goblins (uruk hai) or genetically engineered super-soldiers who have outlived the race that created them (Warhammer 40,000 orks) is irrelevant; the fact is, they're orcs, and therefore all processed as a different take on the same concept.Race is just an example; there are other things around which most fantasy worlds share a common orbit. Sci-fi, though, doesn't really work that way. Take the two well-known sci-fi franchises Mal suggested, Star Trek TOS and Star Wars. If you do a sci-fi universe, you don't have to have some version of Roddenberry's optimism about the future, or an evil galactic empire with a superweapon fetish, or warrior mystics, or lightsabers. Everybody knows about those things, but you can do sci-fi without them. And most of them don't dominate the field the way that Tolkien's creations do. Lightsabers are probably an exception; every single laser sword until the end of time is going to be a variation on the lightsaber. But if you create a galaxy-wide evil empire in your sci-fi universe, people don't instinctively start looking for the Emperor Palpatine figure, or wonder when you're going to trot out the Death Star.
There are rumors about a Warhammer 40.000 online game in development,however it's just rumors,being a warhammer 40.000 fan myself i would love to see an online type of the game.
I worked with a friend for a while, coming up with ideas for a sci-fi MMO design. Even from the very beginning—without exactly knowing why—we both knew that a sci-fi MMO had to play into a different core fantasy than a fantasy MMO. Fantasy games are about being the legendary hero who saves a relatively familiar world, in one way or another. Sci-Fi games are more about finding your way in a big, dazzling new world.When I play a fantasy game, I want to be Aragorn. I want to be the lost King, who overcomes his personal obstacles and then overcomes the forces of his enemies and saves the world. When I play a sci-fi game, I want to be Han Solo—just a regular guy trying to make his way in a big scary world, running from the Empire, helping out the Alliance, but ultimately looking out for number one. Those two concepts translate into entirely different gameplay ideas.We agreed, when we were building the game concept, that we didn't want this to be about being a legendary hero, or saving the world. We wanted this to be, as the creator of my favorite game of all time put it, "our own little pocket universe to kick around in". We eventually scrapped the idea because when we put all of our ideas together we realized that we had basically re-created EVE Online, but that's not the point.I think this keys into the very thought of the way sci-fi and fantasy work. "Sci-Fi", to me, means a world where the rules are different from the world we know, and a story about how regular people deal with these differences. "Fantasy" means a world where the rules don't apply, or they're just...more easily bent—and a story about the exciting ways people bend them. In light of that, interesting sci-fi stories are the stories where the rules are changed in interesting ways. Interesting fantasy stories are stories where the people do emotionally resonant things.I think Nab has a point about the heritage of fantasy vs. the heritage of Sci-Fi—but I think, as explained above, the very nature of Sci-Fi makes it difficult to establish a shared heritage. This is a cross the entire genre has to bear, and it's a tremendous strength when it comes to doing things like writing books—but by nature it causes the whole genre to hew away from the sort of progression process that most successful MMOs are built on.
You know, I think basically all sci-fi heroes are, at the end of the day, just a regular guy trying to make his way in a big scary world. Certainly all of my favorite sci-fi heroes are. Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, Phelan Kell, even Honor Harrington. Sometimes they definitively reach the point of having made it in the big scary world, but that's always the culmination of a long, involving journey.What's interesting to me is that, as has been discussed on this blog before, that's what all MMORPGs are. The game may try to sell you the illusion that you are the legendary hero, but the reality is that you're just a regular guy trying to make his way in a big scary world (the kind of world where even flowers will attack you on sight, and you can get your butt handed to you by a sea turtle, for crying out loud).You'd think that, given that basic congruence, it'd be easier to make an awesome sci-fi MMO.
...I think you're on to something. :P
Why is anarchy online always forgotten it was released in 01 and is still going to this day. It might not be on par with WOW ( which mmorpg ) is but in the difficulty setting it beat wow hands down. They now offer a free for play version of the game for trial , they have updated the graphics and its overall a very cool looking game. Some interesting aspects of the the game include the fact that you enhance your character with implants. Another thing i love is the twinking system it can be almost like a very complex puzzle trying to see how high of level of armor you can equip. If your tired of the fantasy setting and want something new i would definately recommend it. Its also a very pvp instense game as well.
I feel obligated to point out that something smarts of a circularity here.Star Wars is fantasy, depending on how you define it. Or, more appropriately, Star Wars is mythology, roughly akin to Zeus cutting his way out of his father's stomach. It's not fantasy in the sense of LotR, but it's still the coming of age story of one person, all that Joseph Campbell stuff.It's worth noting that the fact that it's a story about sword fights and magic powers doesn't make it not science fiction. I think we're definately on to something about the fact that fantasy and sf stories are differentiated in something that has almost nothing to do with the level of technology of the world.
I am surprised no one had even mentioned Phantasy Star Online yet...But then again, it probably is not very famous outside of Oriental countries, even though I do recall there are english servers.
fallout 3 is in the works of becoming a piece of an MMO.... it really depends on how its portrayed really but medieval is the best time for an MMO because its got things we understand and lets face it folks, guns suck. ranged sucks. missles suck. tanks suck. they take the fun out of killing and war and mmos are hard to center around that.