I once read Raph Koster's "What are the lessons of MMORPGs today?" with mixed emotions of despair and amusement. Now, with a game in the design stage, I would like to share how Project Vex sizes up to Koster's epic lament.
Lone heroes can’t slay dragons. It takes an army.
(In Project Vex) ...A lone character 'can' slay a Dragon. I would love to go into details, but if I told everyone everything, well, then someone else with better funding might make Project Vex instead.
People are only good at one thing.
What your character excels at is your choice, with few limitations. Given enough time, and skill, you could master many paths.
That’s why it takes six people (all doing different jobs) to kill most anything.
While you can generally expect to be able to defeat a single opponent alone, the same is true for the opponent. There is always strength in numbers.
You never, ever, ever change jobs. If you want to, you probably need to die.
You are free to change your "class" as you desire.
You can be the best in the world at your job.
You can try to be the best...
But so can everyone else.
...as can everyone else.
And you will all do it exactly the same way.
With the diversity available in Project Vex, you will be hard pressed to find your doppleganger.
Intelligent beings who have civilizations and languages of their own are generally evil and should be slain.
Evil is entirely subjective, and actions have noticeable consequences (to your benefit, detriment, or both).
Many, if not all, wild creatures are highly aggressive and will attack on sight.
Wild creatures have their own motives, which generally include promoting their own life. The wilderness is dynamic. A creature will never attack you, for the sole purpose of attacking you.
Evil is not redeemable; good is not a choice. Your morals are innate.
Every action you take is your own, everything is subjective.
Killing is the only real way to gain people’s admiration.
Killing is a heavy subject, best avoided whenever possible. It is possible to defeat your opponents without killing them.
Well, you can make stuff too, but you won’t earn the same kind of admiration.
Indeed, that admiration you earn for making something may often be of much higher quality (still subjective).
In fact, there are only two kinds of admiration in the world, and they can be quantified.
There are as many kinds of admiration as you can bring to mind, and they cannot be quantified. even the admiration of NPCs is not a visibly quantifiable number.
Having a hobby will probably reduce your admiration.
This is entirely subjective between players.
All that hoorah about endangered species is like, a total exaggeration. There’s plenty of everything.
Things die, and the world can and will change in response; not only the fauna, but the flora as well.
You not only can’t go home again, you probably don’t have one.
Home is where you "make" it, literally.
If you do, it’s mostly to store stuff, not to live in.
The lifestyle of your character determines whether or not they have a steady home.
You never have people over.
The focus revolves around role-playing, and having people enter your home may very well be a possibility.
Telepathy is normal.
Only for some. Players may communicate freely, as players, but character dialogue is limited in range.
Staring at someone who is talking the politest thing you can do. Because the only other option is to not look at them at all.
Idle character animations are dynamic. Your character pays attention to its surroundings.
Running past or away from people while you are talking to them is also polite.
With the encouragement and design focus to role-play, this will be less likely, but as always, it is the player that has control.
If you don’t keep up with the Joneses, you will never see them again. In fact, if you don’t keep up with your friends, you will never see them again either.
There are no levels, and "skills" do not create such a gigantic rift between players. Communities are meant to be built and maintained.
There are no children.
All characters begin in an adolescent (optional training) stage, before progressing.
Death doesn’t really sting. Nerf, however, is incredibly painful.
Death stings, but it is only part of the cycle, the experience of death is profound. Nerf bats are not standard issue.
There is always a demand for couriers and assassins.
In the right (or maybe the wrong) circles, yes.
Moving frequently is normal, and never going back to your old stomping grounds again is the way of things.
The world is not built in stages, and moving (your home) is not required (except under special circumstances, such as a barbaric horde sacking your community).
There are no such things as social progress or technological advancement.
Not only do these exist, they are one of the primary aspects of the game.
In fact, evil will always be lurking at the edge of the village.
This is certainly a possibility, but not an inevitability.
On the other hand, it will never invade.
If it exists, it is more likely than not, definitely planning on, or in the process of, invading.
There are no governments. Thus there are no laws. Instead, there are laws of physics.
The governments and laws are player created and NPC supported.
There are gods, and they are capricious, and have way way more than ten commandments. Nobody knows how many because everyone clicked past them.
Those Gods exist only to protect the world from ultimate destruction, and for no other reason. There may be other entities within the world itself that call themselves Gods.
Sports are stupid, because everyone’s body is the same.
With the luxury of leisure comes the creation of sports. It is the natural way of things. Whether or not you have the luxury of leisure however, depends on many factors.
Charity is not a virtue; in fact, it’s frequently physically impossible.
There are no game mechanics to prevent any form of charity. Mind you, nothing is guaranteed to be permanent either.
You should not associate with those of lower social standing than yourself.
Associate however you wish, there are no levels; all players are free to, and probably should associate with the others.
You can’t be in two places at once. But places can be in two places at once.
There are no instanced areas, at all.
Parallel universes are obvious.
Servers are not parallel universes, rather they are different parts of the world. If you reach the edge of your own, continuing takes you to the next (it is therefore implied that each server develops uniquely).
Walking is stupid.
Endurance affects more than just walking speed. Exhaustion means poor performance in all physical activities. Paying attention to your surroundings is also important. Nothing exists simply to take up space.
Actually, in general, taking your time is counterproductive.
There is no grind, and no rush. In fact, only fools rush in.
The most important thing in the world is slaying something that will be back the next day… before anyone else gets to slay it.
If you slay something, it will not return (if you're lucky!).
You should probably have entrance and résumé requirements to join your circle of friends.
Those you choose to befriend and those you choose to work with may vary. Typically, one composes a résumé for their work.
Hunting is the noblest profession.
Only one of many noble professions, but certainly not the only one (by design players are encouraged to do more than just kill others).
I take that back; hunting is only noble until you’re good enough to switch to murder.
PvE and PvP both exist, though murder is not necessary to defeat your opponent.
Robbing the dead of indigenous cultures is how you make money.
For those "races" that use money, it is given as a salary for being a part of the community.
There is no such thing as obesity.
Your physical attributes affect the look of your character.
All women are beautiful and all men are either handsome or darkly mysterious.
Character customization will include a large variety of looks. Also, only a few "races" are humanoid.
Somehow, this means that nobody is beautiful and there is no mystery.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There is no need for bras.
While bras and similar articles of clothing exist, I cannot feel justified in forcing their use (unless I also include jock-straps and cups, and penalties for not using them).
People have sex a lot.
This true in life as well.
People never touch.
With character interaction being a large focus of the game, the ability to visibly interact physically with other characters will be implemented (the technology available in 3-5 years will 'easily' allow this).
Not only will you be able to read books (and similar items), you will be able to write them.
They’ve never heard a brand new song.
The creation of music in Project Vex will be available in various forms to all character "races." The skill of the player and character will be factors of course.
In fact, inventing is either forbidden or impossible. Sometimes both.
Neither. It is encouraged.
Most people don’t have families.
Your adolescent character may have NPC or PC family members (some characters of the same "race" created at similar times will be grouped together as siblings), at the adult stage your characters family is open to role-playing between players.
If they do, they probably don’t have mothers and fathers, only brothers and sisters.
Players are open to designating themselves "parents" of newly created characters. One, or a few characters will then start at this players home, and the "parent" player will be notified.
Nobody’s really from here, they just live here.
Players are encouraged to build communities with their characters, and players choose which community their character starts in.
The tide never washes in and out.
There are not only waves that crash against the shores, but a tide that raises and lowers in conjunction with the moon(s).
The birds never migrate.
None of the animals are simply for show, and all of them have motives. If the birds require migration, they 'will' migrate.
Strawberries are never in season.
Dynamic Agriculture is possible.
Night’s really short.
The periods of the day progress steadily, and depend on the motion of celestial bodies and the rotation of the planet.
A player's character is considered to be working, sleeping, and maintaining itself when the player is logged off. NPCs however, do not log off, and need to sleep. Characters may however, require periods of rest after extended periods of action to replenish lasting endurance loss (logging off for a period of time will restore this loss).
There is a specific mechanic in Project Vex that deals with dreams, a mechanic that shall remain secret for now.
There is art and beauty in the world, but you can’t be responsible for any of it.
Players will be responsible for the majority of the art and beauty (except that of the world itself, though they can protect it from devastation, or devastate it).
There is no death; there is simply a failure to show up.
There is death, it is permanent (for the most part), and best to be avoided.
Because of this, there is also rarely any mourning.
With closely knit communities, and characters that know each other and potentially care, the loss of a great warrior will be mourned for. There is even the ability to perform last rites.
Cheers to Raph Koster. You can find the original blog post here: http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/02/24/what-are-the-lessons-of-mmorpgs-today/