One of the things I love about blogging at MMO Voices is that I get to hear the opinions of people that are passionate about the same type of game as I am. We share our thoughts on game design, systems and mechanics, and relate recent experiences we may have had while playing. It also makes the perfect environment for discussion, since everyone has invested a part of themselves into the genre. Sometimes, however, we have disagreements.
For example, one that comes to mind is a recent post by Alik Steel. For some reason, Alik has a grudge against mini-games. He doesn’t want them sullying the good name of MMOs with their casualness. Many of the MMO Voices writers are big fans of Free Realms, so you can imagine that many people disagreed with his points.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do see his argument. Mini-games have homes all across the internet and generally stand in a whole separate biosphere than the usual MMO would. On top of that, MMOs tend to be single player, so it’s not hard to imagine people playing alone instead of grouping up.
Still, I don’t see any problem in making mini-games part of an MMO. I mean, in a lot of ways they already are. After all, the Bejeweled and Peggle addons are officially endorsed by Blizzard and are enjoyed by, literally, hundreds of thousands of people. Saying mini-games have no place in an MMO is also ignoring the fact that gathering and crafting is, in itself, a mini-game.
Plus, certain systems could be vastly improved by pulling in more mini-game aspects. Take Leala’s ideas on fishing for example. How anyone can think of “click…. watch tv…. click" as fun is beyond me, which is probably why only masochists and the incredibly bored bother leveling it. By bringing in more of a mini-game, fishing might actually be worth something, other than to occasionally turn into a pirate. ARRRRRmirite me mateys? Sorry, I’m not feeling it.
I don’t think anyone’s proposing making that the Free Realms model is the wave of the future. I think that it’s more about people wanting options. In education, we talk a lot about differentiating how we deliver content and that’s all this would really be. Imagine if I took the crotchety approach to teaching.
ME: Alright kid, you’ve got a choice: Three Little Pigs or Fox in Socks. Which one do you want?
STUDENT: But… Mr. Chris… I, I’d kind of like to read Cat in the Hat too…
ME: Screw that kid, this is how it works. Deal with it.
And then maybe the next day the student’s Mom calls in and has him change subscriptions or something.
Anyways, the point I’m trying to make is there’s nothing wrong with a little change. When things don’t change, that’s when there’s a problem. I’m not for throwing out what works and reconfiguring the genre. Some things should stay and some were even better before they got changed. But we pay by the month for a reason, and I don’t think it’s so we can all be Conservative Charlie of the Everquest Nation.
Change is inevitable and I don’t plan on being the old man on the porch shaking his cane at the whipper snappers with their fancy do-hickeys and whoozits. Or maybe I will. But not about games.