Tabula Rasa was pretty interesting looking, but I think it suffered from the complexity factor, and the fact that there wasnt really a "class" system where you depended on others (not from what I experience, even going into 'instances'). I think a Sci-Fi MMO can be compelling, it just needs to achieve the "Worldly" experience rather than feeling like a very big single player game.
@InhalerThe main fault of Tabula Rasa was the content, repeating over and over.Although it had a lot of great innovations for casual players, boredom came sooner or later to everyone, because each new location was just a reskinned copy of the previous one.However, I miss Tabula Rasa badly. It was a great project. Hope someone will learn from its mistakes and do a Sci-Fi MMO right.
One of the problems I have is that I'm used to orcs and goblins, elves and dwarves. When you get to Sci-Fi, creative types tend to go overboard and create completely original characters and species (even in Star Wars and Star Trek). It's good to create new things but you have a greater chance of failure--of people taking one look, rolling their eyes, and walking away. For instance, I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy books but often the cover art is so over the top and trashy it makes me groan and a little hesitant to read it (although the author often has little to do with the cover art). Perhaps that's just me, those books sell cover art and all.
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I think a sci fi MMO can and does work. Two great examples are eve (obviously) and Anarchy Online (its getting a bit long in the tooth but its been around a long time and is still going). I think the trick is to not just get a fantasy MMO copy paste it and renamed sword to laser sword. You can still have character development without going from useless to god.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.
Earth and Beyond was a great MMO, easy, fun, levelling via combat, trade, and exploration. But then EA happened. Westwood gets bought by EA, EA kills off advertising, claims lack of players, recycles servers for Sims Online (which EA also proceeded to kill).Keeping with tropes we know, how many of us, when Blizzard started teasing us with a new Starcraft release, were desperately hoping for World of Starcraft (not Starcraft II)?
Is it possible? Very much yes! Eve Online has as rich lore as WoW does, and it's roleplaying population is surprisingly thriving considering that they are forced to play with the lolbois - there's only one huge server, arguably the biggest and meanest in all of MMO's considering there's nowadays around 30-40 thousand people logged in outside of daily downtime every day. Back when I started it 12k people online at the same time was huge news..Uh, anyways. The story of it is compelling, and being continuously told - my character is a Minmatar, a partially former slave race for the Amarr. (Partially? Many of them still are, though sizable number manage to rebel and form their own empire.) With the addition of Factional Warfare I can read "news" of the fictional happenings of New Eden that concerns my race, and then there are the general news of the happenings of the said universe, such as the scientist being both baffled and intrigued by previously unseen phenomenons such as the wormholes implemented in the newest expansion, and before this there were news about the tensions rising, culminating to a suicide attack before the war between empires erupted. All of this was written very beautifully, like a novel - some of the more important events such as the start of factional warfare were even "televised" by "The Scope", a large independent news agency in the New Eden universe.With EvE, I think everything that can be done right with a sci-fi MMO has been done right, over the years - considering the things you've pointed out: For one, you can beat players that have played 4 years and you only a month. There is no silly leveling system. While many people hate it that you can "progress" without doing anything really, there is a charm to it that your skills and abilities improve without you having to sit by your monitor 20 hours a day. With the new skillqueue system implemented in Apocrypha the game has become even more accessible in those terms, as you don't have to log in every hour to switch your noobskills - the queue can make your skilling automatic in the space of a day. Eve is very much a sandbox where you can rise to fame and profit however you like, be it piracy and ransoming unwary pilots for sparing their ship or life, producing raw materials for the economy run solely by players, producing goods from the said materials and/or playing the economy - buy/produce cheap, sell with profit. It has relatively small playerbase, but a faithful one, which seems to be growing steadily over time. And with the accessibility being improved patch by patch, I can only see the game thrive even more, given enough time. It will never be WoW, but it will become the most succesfull sci-fi MMO in near future. It already is, in fact.....That being said, I'm eagerly waiting for the World of Darkness MMO being developed by the guys who created EvE (CCP).
I want some Tier 37!I think that the point that is brought up the least, but is one of the most valid, is what you've mentioned here: Sci-Fi is about normal people.Most people don't log into an MMO to be a "normal person". They log in to be a hero, even if it's on a subconscious level. People log in to games like Second Life to be normal.... pretty, rich, and interesting, but still bascially normal. And I think that mind set 'turns off' traditional MMO-ers/Gamers. They look around and go "Ok, where's the big monster I'm supposed to be killing... that monster who my whole 'life' has in someway or another been related to.... wait, there is no monster? There's only socializing, paying rent, decorating, and dressing myself? That's no fun."To have a compelling Sci-fi MMO, I think you need to bring in some element of a common enemy, of being a 'hero', even if you're only a hero of circumstance, rather than of magical powers. Anyway, I'm tired, and I apologize if some of that doesn't make sense.
Well, fantasy setting does have the backing of fairy tales and beliefs to mythical creatures from hundreds if not thousands years old - this stuff is almost imprinted to our subconcious by now. Modern science fiction on the other hand has existed only about 140 years.
Lol, I totally recognize what Star Trek episode that picture is from. I guess that proves I'm a semi-Trekkie.Good article by the way Mal!
Definitely some good points here, but most Sci-Fi MMOs fail because they are 1) crap to start or 2) handled very very poorly (I'm looking at you, SOE).I'm disappointed at the complete lack of any mention of Jumpgate Evolution. If there's any Sci-Fi MMO that will be the next to succeed after EVE Online, it's this one. It's pretty much shaping up to be my perfect MMO: the gameplay and learning curve of Freelancer, with an ever evolving depth to hopefully rival that of EVE.We have a promising Sci-Fi MMO future IMO, we just need to wait a little longer (and pray, pray hard for Stargate: Worlds).