Last week we had a long chat with Chris Roberts about Star Citizen. This game not only looks amazing, but the concept behind how it is being made is actually a story in itself. In talking with Chris we are all very impressed with how the funding has gone for the game and how much the community has gotten involved. We are seeing the success of that plan in an age where more games are going free to play and becoming more casual. Chris really did go the opposite direction with a super in-depth, hardcore experience on the PC. So, with all the positive energy surrounding Star Citizen we here at MMORPG came up with a simple question? Why has no one done this with the fantasy genre?
In the era of MMOs we have seen games like EverQuest, Ultima Online, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot come into play before World of Warcraft. In the post Warcraft era many games have been going after large known names to have a success. Games like Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, and Star Wars: The Old Republic all followed this formula. While I like all of those game, few MMOs really branch out to build their own fantasy worlds. DarkFall is one that stands out for its appraoch to making a game set in their own world with a sandbox environment.
Game developers can take a lesson from Chris and Star Citizen in that they are including the community from the funding standpoint. To build a game that people really want to play. They are making decisions in development that are influenced by players. Who needs angel investors and venture capital when you can ask your player base to fund your game instead? But that is where the real question lies: who will have the courage to make a game like Star Citizen for the fantasy genre?
I guess the main question is will it work? Well, yes if you include a few major elements to MMOs that have been missing as of late. The biggest would be player housing. If you built a vast epic fantasy world and allowed players to pledge money so they could have their own home it would be quite amazing to see what they came up with. I am not just talking about castles or towers. I am talking about Orc caves, and Barbarian yurts. The customization level would have to be tremendous for players themselves. Even though you have classes, or a skill system, recent MMOs have proven that these can be blended with the choice of weapons for game balance. Guild Wars 2 proved that. So why not allow for some amazing customization options to how players look based on their funding? All of these bits come into the play when creating the game world.
Next would be how the world could be broken up. You would have to have PvP zones and epic areas for players to exlpore, but you could also have markets and castles built and run by players. Tournaments and events hosted by the players. Ultima Online really started to have these player run events and they were amazing. The world itself could change and grow with an active development team who worked on the live game. Overall, it should be epic filled with magic and heroes. Maybe you want to create cults of Wizards as players to research new magic, or discover new areas. Honestly, the possibilities are endless as your imagination when given a game like this.
I think the game industry is waiting to see if Chris will sink or swim with Star Citizen. If the funding is any sign, he is swimming along right now. The point is that an MMO absolutely could be made by the right people to encompass a world like this. Not just a medieval version of Sims, but a real active, living, and changing world. MMOs keep trying to follow a model of single-player RPGs and pushing players through content. Nothing says it cannot be done in a different way like Star Citizen is being done. Let’s look to the future and see games for what they will become: living worlds that we can all have a part in, even as investors.