You hit the nail square on the head with this: I think eve is a great break from the "traditional" leveling system of MMOs. In that even a very young character can be in a frigate helping a 5 year old character in there battleship. Now when was the last time you saw a level 5 helping a level 80? Its great from a social point of view since almost straight away you can do things with your friends. I think the trick is more thought needs to be put into a sci fi MMO to make it work.My thoughts exactly. It's the one thing that's truly bugged me about WoW. Your top level characters only ever work together, lower levels are not needed. The only time an 80 works with level 15 is to blast them through deadmines in 10 minutes.The thing that really appeals to me about a sci-fi MMO is the idea of top level players taking over some huge starship with middle and low ranking players all taking a role whether its manning the guns, piloting shuttles, or leading raids into enemy ships. Low "level" characters can still play an exciting role and contribute in big ways, perhaps even swaying the tide of battle. You don't need a WoW type levelling system (with upgrading stats) to do this. As one gains experience, they unlock new leadership ranks. This system has already been used in games like Battlefield 2 where the most experienced players in the battle get to take over command positions.The biggest problem that I see with sci-fi MMO's is the idea of a "world" or more specifically worlds (many). No amount of developers could create the number and diversity of planets that fans can dream up while at the same time meeting the high detail levels set by WoW. Fans have come expect that every square foot of new terrain will be different than the last. Wrath of the Lich King raised that bar very high and I don't see it coming back down. Star Wars and Star Trek have reinforced the notion that there are truly galaxies full of new and exciting worlds to explore and no game could ever deliver that. The end result is games like Eve that keep you in your ship or games that become numbingly repetivitive with nondescript random worlds. The easy solution is to keep players contained to Starbases and port cities when out of their ships, but this would be suffocating to players used to roaming free over the countryside. Dalaran is beautiful, but I like to get out of town every now and then.WoW fans (and lets face it, any fan base for a new game would have to suck people away from WoW) have very high standards and a sci-fi game would have to be amazing right of the gates to be successful. That would require a massive investment of time, money, and skill. Didn't Sony say that it would take a billion dollars to mount a serious challenge to WoW? Having said that, I know a lot of WoW players who are looking for a change so a new challenger may yet pop out of nowhere. In reality though, I think the next big MMO will be World of Starcraft. I just hope they do it right.
Sci-fi games want a sandbox treatment, not a linear treatment—that's the reason why the Star Wars Galaxies game update offended so many people.The Combat Upgrade, or CU, for future reference in my ranting, helped ease my transition into playing World of Warcraft "effectively." Many differences did make some learning involved when switching over, but now you had this fantasy-like Science Fiction game.I think the attraction to these games is simply a challenge. Though I am still working on putting together a perfect group in my guild for 10-man Sartharion with three Drakes up, that encounter is nothing like the months of enduring the jedi training. After succeeding in training what your holocron has asked (in which the last holocron made you train in random professions until you got the right one), you would be able to take off on your path to becoming one of the few jedi.Player vs. Player combat, though in-essence the same (Player A fights Player B), was against two factions; the rebels and the Empire. Raids were not high-level dungeons, but rather some of your friends staying up late and destroying the opposing factions bases. Even then, some of the PvP that went on was between my jedi and the bounty hunter that was sent after me because I revealed myself in the city.I was both a Pre-CU and CU player, and believe that the sandbox treatment was both irritating and gratifying. If you put forth that amount of work (and money) in a MMO, wouldn't you want to log off with a sense of accomplishment other than "I just killed a boss"? It wasn't necessarily work, but more-or-less productively spending your leisure time unproductively ... if you get what I'm saying?
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.
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.< cut >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..)I like these ideas, especially attachment to your character, but I wonder if it would seem too much like WoW-in-Space? As popular as WoW is, I really believe that a space MMO would have to take things in a new and different direction and that's where it gets hard for developers. I think that finding a balance between ease of use and complexity. The temptation to overcomplicate things would be huge, especially considering there would be two games in one; the space game and the ground game. The development challenges with a sci-fi MMO are immense and I'm really looking forward to seeing how they are overcome which I'm sure they will be. WoW has proven that there's a market out there so now it's up to the developers to create the next big thing. Personally, I can't wait :) I really want the Star Trek MMO to work, but I suspect it will be Starcraft that does it best. Blizzard has the cash, the reputation and the talent to pull this off.
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.
fallout 3 would work as an MMO, the character is more or less an antihero, but you can move around freely in the world doing quests (though all are optional, eventualy you have to do the main quest)and you have 100% freedom in wether you want to be good or bad(f.ex: there's an undetonated nuke in the center of megaton and already at the start of the game you have to decide between disarming it or... detonating it.... thus killing a few hundred ppl)the not only outcome of the game depends on wether your actions were good or bad but also how other ppl interact with you(f.ex: i'm playing the good way atm, and i have been tried to assasinate by mercs)and there's even lvls (from 1 - 20 but , atleast they're there)they'd have to figure a way around the game ending after you do the main quest but instead endgame content being then thoughI thought about that but the Elder Scrolls Series would be such a better online game .They would have classes and guild in the game like in Oblivion.
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.
... 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.Gun rule. Nessingway rules.WoW needs bigger freaking guns.
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.Not all of them... biggest counter example i can think of is Dune... I do believe you're on to something... but i also believe that Sci-Fi MMOs have failed to leverage that something. Stories about "regular Joe" characters are appealing because you care about the characters. If you think about it, every single Space Opera focuses on only a few characters, and most of the story develops on a personal level, not on the great scale of things.A lot of Sci-Fi games tend to follow the "Space Sim" model of old, and have failed to make the switch to a more personal approach.KOTOR was such a good game because it mixed space exploration and sandbox elements, common in Space Sim games, with storytelling that focused on the characters.Most Sci-Fi games seem to be more concerned with making you win the war than with the small battles that make good Sci-Fi interesting.
If the traditional levelling progression and gear progression mechanic doesn't work for a sci-fi MMO...what will?I'm not convinced that this is the problem for sci-fi MMORPGs - XP and levelling can be perfectly at home in a sci-fi setting, as can regular gear upgrades. Hard sci-fi may be problematic, but as the stuff likely to make it into an MMO is going to be more space opera (think Star Wars, Star Trek, or even the Lensmen and Skylark books), you can have all sorts of wonderful gadgets and whatnot. Consider the Warhammer 40,000 universe (and yes, I know THQ is already working on an MMO for it):-Heroes and anti-heroes from most factions (maybe not the Tau, but certainly the Imperium, Chaos, Eldar, Orks etc). More, no one class need be fixed - paladins in WoW tend to be either goody two-shoes or magic-addicted BElves. 40k Inquisitors (for example) can operate along the whole spectrum.-Levelling works perfectly in the setting, especially as often in 40k the idea of demi-god feats fits right into the setting.-Gear upgrades. An Imperial Guardsman might go from cloth fatigues to basic armour (think modern soldiers) to flak armour, then pieces of carapace armour, then full carapace armour, then perhaps storm trooper gear. Weapons could plausibly begin at bolt-action rifles and end with your character becoming a weapon specialist, toting a meltagun capable of double-digit-gigajoule firepower, or running around with a bolt pistol, energy shield and power fist designed to peel through tank armour.The point is, it depends entirely on the setting. A mature civilisation like Star Wars, with readily available, military-grade weapons will find it harder to justify the gear progression when realistically (in-universe) a character could happily buy a gun as powerful as Han Solo's blaster with few problems. Warhammer 40,000, Star Trek (away from say Federation core worlds), Stargate... these tend to have much greater technological disparities between factions, which allows for more gear upgrades etc.The other option for sci-fi MMOs though is to concentrate on things like boss encounters and PvP skill rather than gear progression. If it's easy to get the equivalent of full Season 6 / Tier 8 gear then skill and teamplay becomes more important (assuming good class balancing of course). A Patchwerk-style fight might not appear (or not appear often) in such a game, but a fight requiring lots of team-work (think M'uru at L70, or a boss that behaves in a vaguely PvP-like manner) will. Obviously this makes it harder for the developers - good, complex AI is no doubt harder to do than simpler fights and gear progression - but it is an alternative to the WoW model.TL;DR - A lot depends on the background.