Call it being snooty or picky… or even high maintenance, but I have become increasingly bored with the fantasy genera. By fantasy I mean the spell slinging, monster hacking, sexy elves “fantasy” games. My recent boredom with this genera has gotten me thinking about the reasons for my new found boredom.
It could be the overexposure as most MMOs that flood the market are based on the fantasy genera. Yes I know there are many games that fall into this category, but I am specifically speaking of the games that have the before mentioned fantasy elements. I know I am not as seasoned as some vets that play games today, but I think starting with EQ and playing nearly every mainstream MMO gives me a bit of a background. Another factor is that perhaps I am finally recognizing the type of gamer that I am.
I adored games like Planetside (stoked they are making a Ps 2, sad it is being developed by SoE) and Tabula Rasa (even though no one else seemed to). Although this is the case, I do not consider myself a FPS addict. Yes I have played Counter Strike, but then who hasn’t? Yes I own all of the Call of Duty’s, but fantasy MMOs have always held a space on my hard drive and my credit card.
Perhaps what I crave is depth, or an interesting story that I actually want to play out. I know what I am describing is your typical RPG, but then again RPG makes up a lot of what MMORPGs are about. Maybe I should just create a story and follow it while I game…but then there are no quests, and more importantly no rewards for my made up material (unless we are playing CoX). I am dying for a game that does more than assign me some quests, but rather gives me a reason for doing it. For example, say my character is traveling from the starting area to another town. Along the way I come across a village that is being attacked by demons. It makes sense for my character to get quests that directly or diversely related to that village’s demon problem. Give me choice or give me… well another game. Let me impact the world around me, beyond the auction houses prices. Let my actions directly relate to the world I run around in. If I wipe out that pack of demons attacking the village I expect something to actually happen. Let that village rebuild and allow me to shop and talk to the villagers about my heroic acts. Then again if I side with demons and burn that mother to the ground, I don’t expect it to be standing there next time I enter that zone.
Yes I do realize these options are simply not available in an MMO because how would other players experience the content I just finished or destroyed? It is just purely wishful thinking on what I view as a crucial thing MMOs are missing.
Now I am no developer nor are my views correct, but there might be a way for people to experience content and make it unique. Make special areas like the before mentioned village instanced. By instancing areas a player could experience the content how they see fit. If I, or my group, come across this village and decide to go all pyro on it we should be able to. This choice could take us to the demon lair to speak with the demon lord. If we decide to kill of the demons and save the village, the group would be taken down a different path that ends up with us at the demons lair only on less than friendly terms.
After completion of the mission the mark on our world would be evident through our choices. Either there is a village to return to, or there are the burnt remains of our destruction. Each choice takes the player down similar paths but the end result is unique to their choices.
Modern big name RPG titles have built up my expectations in what I expect a game to deliver story wise. Games such as Fable, Mass Effect, and the KoToR series may have ruined many games for me (shakes fist and yells like Stephen Colbert). These series have altered the face of RPG gaming through their ability to weave choice and story together to completely immerse the gamer. This action of making the gamer feel they are in control of the games direction plays a great part of what made these games successful. So why are fantasy MMOs not delivering this feeling of immersion into their games? Sure many games claim that you get the sense of your player growing stronger as they level, but in how many games do you really feel that your character is a grade A bad mofo? There is a difference between fighting one mob at a time and running into a stronghold and unleashing your awesomeness on any mercs that happen to be in your way.
So is it even possible for MMORPGs to take the community, social interaction, and vastness of their worlds, and weave it together with the story and immersion of RPGs? Maybe one day… maybe one day there will be a union between these two and they will produce the first coming of “epicness” we all crave.
Till next time, remember we are born gamers…it is not a choice.