OK, that title is a bold statement, so let me define what I mean by it.
Several episodes ago, me and Leala talked about our ideal MMO's, and how we would make them. She had the idea to make a Buffy the Vampire Slayer MMO, one that would allow for cool skills (magic back-up from your out-of-group friends! Cool idea!) and already had a built in fun factor. My idea was essentially a survival MMO, one that drops you off in the middle of a beautiful forest, pitting you against the elements. You would have to use your wits and guesswork to gather food and to survive.
Lately I have been piecing together a killer MMO using current games, but that was in blog form only.
We need to go back and re-visit our dream MMO, though, on the show. I will talk about it on the next show, probably. Because my recent time in WURM Online has shown me that my dream MMO is probably right around the corner. Notice that the title is not "THE IDEAL MMO"...meaning that there are still some things I would like to change, to tweak, to make it ultimate.
The game essentially does what I described in my dream MMO, it drops you off in the middle of...somewhere...and you have to figure out everything yourself. But, the game is lacking in some areas, just like any other game. Let me cover a couple things that I would like to tweak:
1) The death system: While the game gets closer to the goal than most games, it would still be nice if death was not so easy to overcome. Basically, if you get killed, you re-spawn back to a location and might have to go back to your corpse to gather the items off of it. While this is an independent game, I would like to see such innovative developers give death a little more thought. But, the system of food/starving is pretty neat. While you never will die from hunger, stamina regeneration will drop so low that you will be hard-pressed to do a lot. For me, I would like to see the rare occasion of death (as it is rare in this game) treated as major injuries, possibly followed with time to get "better" or healed by someone elses skills? This has got to be one of the hardest things to make in your game, the system of dying.
2) The graphics: Well, this is a minor thing. But still, graphics can make or break a game. Luckily, the games environments actually look really nice. Especially at night, you will find yourself excited over recognizing the layout of the land, how pretty the sky is and the joy of seeing a campfire through the trees. The actual characters, though, are not much more than a stiff dummy-looking guys (or girls? come to think of it, I haven't seen any females!) that have hardly any animations. It would be amazing to see this game rendered in even a slightly nicer engine. I can see why they go this low-end, though, as it helps the game run on many different PC's and is cheaper than most engines. Also, it runs in Java.
There are, I am sure, many things I would love to fix. But this game is the reason that I play MMO's, a game that fires my imagination. This game is almost a perfect representation of my Immersion Rules. Now, let's say that in some magic world I can own a game like this, or buy it from the owners...what would I do with it?
Well, when you log in you would find yourself in the middle of the woods, at night. You would have a very few basic tutorials pop up to show how to open inventory and all that, and inside you would find a few basic tools.
The key thing here is how to show you what "to do" next without being obvious. I would probably go with a similar system that the game uses now, a system of highlighting all objects that can be interacted with, but I would make it more subtle.
The only chat that would work would be a local one, and a shout channel. No tells or global channels. I have to say that WURM benefits greatly from having it's help channel, and it's local chat works in a "realistic" way, fading out when you are not around others, but I would like to take away this ability to magically send your thoughts into others minds.
For help, there could be a "clue" system that might help by highlighting useful objects that are next to use, or maybe a sort of petition that would grant you access to a GM in the form of some kind of helpful creature.
Essentially, you might wander around doing the same thing that you would do in real life, yelling for others. Once you met someone, you could build a camp together or find some food. WURM does food pretty well, but I would like to see it become the crippling system that it could be!
When you log out, you would sleep, and depending on where you slept you would get bonuses or minuses. If you logged out in a pile of leaves, you might wake up cold and achy and get a minus to your stats. If you slept in a warm bed next to a fire, then you would wake up in a much better state of mind.
WURM is just such a perfect base for my perfect MMO as I described it. It is a survival game, but on top of that I would love to see what I call the "mysterious orb" events. Let's say you are busy working on building the morning camp-fire when you look up and see a mysterious orb in the sky! Over the next few days (or even weeks) it grows in size and changes color...what could it be?
Live events do not need to be filled with non-stop action. They could be these small changes to the Lore, or events that were only hinted at but that felt as though something huge went on. If that mysterious orb came and went, leaving only a great crater, the players would be fascinated.
That's what I am looking for in my MMO: discovery and mystery. WURM has a lot of this, but if I had my way, the game would be turned into something even more mysterious, something a little darker, more deadly, too.
In the meanwhile, I will continue to play and to daydream. Maybe I can make my OWN MMO?