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Independency: MMO Adventure Games?

Column By Cassandra Khaw on November 09, 2012

Though far from everyone's cup of tea, few genres offer the kind of silliness we've come to associate with adventure games. After all, who can forget slipping into Manny's well-shod shoes in Grim Fandango or that moment when it dawned upon you that Monkey Island wanted you to use a rubber chicken as a transportation device?

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Nonetheless, in spite of its lingering popularity (all claims that adventure gaming is dead appear to have quieted as of late thanks to the likes of The Walking Dead and others), there have been little if any attempts at introducing point & click adventures to the world of MMOs. While some of the reason are evident enough, I decided to consult an expert in adventure games for a more definitive answer. Dave Gilbert is the CEO and Head Designer at Wadjet Eye Games, the company for the Blackwell franchise as well as a smattering of other games. On top of releasing their own titles, Wadjet Eye Games is responsible for publishing highly-lauded titles like Gemini Rue and the upcoming Primordia.

So, why wouldn't a Massively Multiplayer Online Adventure Game work? 

"I suppose it's because most adventure games are traditionally very single player experiences. To make it an MMO, you'd have to change the very foundation of what makes an adventure game an adventure game - that of a very focused narrative." Dave explained. "Not that a traditional MMO can't have a focused narrative, but the narrative isn't the core focus mechanics and balance are the main focus, while the narrative is second or something."

He added, "Besides, the experience would be kind of ruined with lots of people running around. Even with Old Republic, it was hard to take it seriously when the ancient monster you found in an old tomb to be your companion turned out to have 999 identical twins running around as well."

Dave continued on, defining the heart of the adventure game as its explorative element."It's interactive for a reason. The story is paramount, but the best adventure games let you explore and delve a bit deeper into the world, and let you get more out of it." 

Nonetheless, he doesn't think it's impossible, merely difficult to achieve. "It's really hard to say. I think games like The Old Republic and Secret World were going in the right direction, but they were bogged down by the need to keep playing for as long as possible, and angering the customers in the process."

"At least, that's what happened when I played them."

I made an example of Square Enix's recently launched GameGlobe, a browser-based experience that allows players to create, share, and play their own games and game worlds. Could such a format work with a point & click MMO? "It would be interesting to see!" Dave exclaimed. "The main issue with creating a multiplayer game is that the world can never really change, because if it changes for you it changes for everybody. I suppose an MMO adventure would have something similar, but combat skills would be replaced by other things, like... I dunno. Charm or lockpicking or computer hacking. You'd have objectives, and multiple ways of getting to the objectives, depending on what your skills are."

Now, let's catalyze the discussion. Massively Multiplayer Online Point & Click Adventure Games are certainly, if not entirey non-existent, rare to find. Are there any other genres in the industry that you think are impossible to turn into an MMO? Could a Massively Multiplayer Online Puzzle Game (see the underappreciated Puzzle Pirates) potentially be the next big thing? 

Let me hear your thoughts.


Check out more of Cassandra's Independency series!

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