I think we need to redefine "massively multiplayer". Is it really concurrent users? Or maybe it could be describes as, a massive amount of users have shaped this world?
In my last blog post, I had some bullet points about what could be a revolution in ORPGs. The "Boutique" ORPG. I'm going to coin that. Now.
Let’s have a thought experiment to see how this all comes together:
My guild has just done a pay pal donation drive for a season pass to “BrainStorm: Salutations” which was released a few months back. Its overview was written by a pretty well known author and it got great reviews from the first groups that went through. We had a choice of genres, modern, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.
We have a guild of about 30 active people. A season pass is 3 months. We decided that since this is the first time many of us have tried this, we opted for the “weekly” installment. What this means is that one day a week, for an 8 hour time slot, live human generate and controlled content will be provided for us. We could have gone for more days, but we all have jobs, families.
Prior to our first login, we did a poll as to what kind of scenario we wanted. This information was submitted and we created 2 characters each with the software. The content developers create using this information, the more we provide, the more they can personalize. Maybe a reference from a character’s past will rise up into the plot. A tutorial is available pre-game day.
A couple of us had already developed characters from this world. The seasons take place in a fleshed out world already created and affected by previous seasons. So they can use this character again, if they choose. They can also pull some information from a “universal persona”, which could be from a different game altogether. Things like appearance, personality traits can be imported. This also could keep a “score” from other players, rankings and achievements.
Upon our first login, we’re all put forth into the game world. We may not, in fact start together in the same place. Broken into smaller group, there is someone from the content developers there to dial us in. This may be from dialogue or an event.
Proximity VIOP allows us to communicate in a somewhat realistic manner. The content developers can also listen in and make on the fly changes, in reaction to our reactions and desires. Or fears.
Some items are scripted. But others are directly manipulated by a human being. For instance, a guild mate and I were sent by our family to clean out a kobold cave near our village. As the cave is at the bottom of a small ravine, we decided to be pyros and take a keg of powder, attach it to a cart, light it and roll it in. I suggested we wait until all of the kobolds were home. My guild mate suggested we teach the others a lesson and roll it in there with a few of them to witness. The explosion worked, but the content developer, who was listening, took an opportunity to spice things up. Some kobolds were left alive, they ran off, but it turns out there were other witness to this massacre. They weren’t kobold at all and wanted to return the lesson teaching favor.
Meanwhile, the rest of my guild is having their own experiences and the content developers are taking notes, exchanging events and plotting on a whiteboard somewhere.
As the session ends, we’re some of us reunited, maybe in a home or gathered around a camp fire. Some of us are abroad, in the wilderness. We all have pieces of the puzzle. Why do we all have headaches? What shot through the sky the night before? Some of us are on an expedition out to the site now. Others have heard it’s an omen and are determined to seek and oracle. Some of us just want cash.
Fast forward. The season is over and we achieved a lot. Exceptional exploits are added to the canon of the game world and a badge is added to our universal persona. The turnaround time for another season varies. If it’s brand new, we’d have to wait for the developers to create another installment. Meanwhile, we can try another game world, like “New York Minutes: Chapter Six”.
This all requires organization and technology and a lot of money to get off the ground. But how much did you spend on a small vacation last year? What if you could go on a retreat with your guild to a sci-fi game world?