Well, this is my first blog, and I've never been a blogger, so we will see how this goes, or see if anyone actually cares.
Here's a question I must ask myself. Why do we define such strict rule sets for what an MMO is and how it is perceived? Why are MMOs seperated into two sudo catagories? Everyone projects an MMO as either a Theme park, a game with a linear playstyle, scripted content, quests quests quests, levels and classes, ect, and Sandboxes, a game with lots of possibilities, open ended gameplay, create your own content(dubbed "contentless" by some), ect. I'm not here to argue the definitions, this is just how I perceive them, and I think many others do to.
The question I wonder is, why are these such defined sub-genres? Why is it impossible to blur the two, and why hasn't it been attempted before?
I think the ever elusive "perfect game" for me would be a very nice mix of the two. Why is it impossible to have a sandbox core with theme park content laid on top of it? I imagine it as something like this. At the core you have a leveless, classless skill system from which you can build your own "class" per say, and shape it to exactly how you see fit. A completely open, seamless world with player housing, player created cities, and tons of places to explore. Place with it a deep, complex crafting system with a completely player run and driven economy. Allow players to play and build their character without ever being "forced" to do anything. If a player never wants to touch combat, they shouldn't have to, and their should be completely viable alternative paths for players to take that are completely non-combat, like a pure crafter, an entertainer, ect.
Now on top of this sandbox core, why can't we lay down some theme park content? I'm not talking about the mindless drivel of 10,000 "tasks" that you are forced to run in order to "level up" like in some games. I'm talking fun, engaging, meaningful quests that are completely optional. The rewards for such quests would be minor amounts of experience, some gold, and some crafting supplies to sell. Why can't you have large, scripted dungeon bosses that offer a difficult yet fun experience that you aren't force to do to get the "best gear", but are completely optional? As for loot from such an epic boss, well why not take his awesome, yet beat up armor, melt it down and use the resources it's made of to craft new armor for other people?
In my opinion(this is my blog right?), the major flaws, or atleast flaws in the perception, is that Theme park games "force you" to do stuff, and sandbox games have nothing to do. Well, wouldn't a great comprimise be to have the content of the theme park game, but have it be optional, and the tools of a sandbox game to create your own content?
Well hopefully that wasn't too bad of a read. (To companies: Now accepting jobs as an MMO designer)