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Hrothmund's random ramblings.

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Author: Hrothmund

A Popular MMOFPS, is it even possible? Part 1 - Multiplayer

Posted by Hrothmund Friday March 6 2009 at 11:24AM
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I am waiting, and probably will be for quite some time to come. You see, what  I am anticipating is not going to solidify in the near future. I am waiting on a solid MMOFPS, a 'WoW' of MMOFPS titles, if you like.

No, I am not writing about a juiced-up Planeside, or Tabula Rasa with real-time targeting. I am not interested in a manga inspired cliche Japanese styled titles like Aion, and Stargate Worlds, a re-skinned Tabula Rasa from the looks of things,  does not interest me. In fact, no currently announced title holds my attention.

What I am looking for is a cross-breed of Gears of War and Counterstrike, with a persistent, non-instanced, game-world, where skill, reaction time and the use of terrain decides the victor, instead of gear and character level.

We are finally at a point where connectivity in the western world allows for a FPS game of epic proportions. Imagine massive PvP battles with thousands of player created characters engaging each other, faction-based and neutral NPCs. Imagine a brawl that combines the best parts of Unreal Tournament, Lake Wintergrasp and a Gears of War boss encounter. Imagine a battlefield containing hundreds of mini objectives, deformable terrain, and interactive objects. This is all possible with today's technology.

I know most MMO players do not engage actively in PvP, but by integrating PvP into the core of the game, and making it not only meaningful and rewarding but also entertaining, I think it i is not impossible to have over nine tenths of a game's population taking active part in PvP battles daily.

Why do millions of players play FPS titles each day? The addictive mechanic behind these games is quite simple: every time you defeat an opponent, you know there is person behind a keyboard somewhere in the world cursing his fate. The games are also easy to learn, but difficult to master. 

Top-ranked players in FPS games hold a respect unmatched by many other types of games. They are the top dogs because they are better than you, not because they have a faster machine, better gear or are in a top-guild. In the world of FPS titles, you earn a spot in the top clans only through personal skill, instead of gear or character achievements. This translates to a much more competitive and matter-of-fact community when compared with MMOs.

FPS titles are also very casual gamer friendly, playing a few hours a week is enough to maintain your ranking and skill level in most games. The magic here is that you don't neeed to spend months to be able to play with or against the best players. The top players can quite often be found playing on public servers, this means that no chasm exists between the elite and novices, an effect which separates the community in MMOs.

The learning curve is much steeper, novice players will effectively be nothing more than target practice for the veterans. However, there are also more immediate rewards. When was the last time you took down an end-game raid boss at level one in an MMO? This is possible in FPS titles, there is nothing better to boost your confidence than fragging one of the elite.

In short, if a developer succeeds in integrating this sort of instant action and immersion into a persistent game-world, I do believe the title will be noticed by the gaming community. However, to penetrate the market, this MMOFPS has to get everything right. All aspects, including controls, game mechanics, itemization, graphics, sound, UI, voice communication, connectivity and game balance have to be top of the line to provoke mass interest. There are so many quality FPS games out there, that a MMOFPS with a monthly fee really has to be something special to gain mass popularity.

To summarize, I am waiting, and admittedly drooling, for one MMOFPS to rule them all, one MMOFPS to find them, one MMOFPS to bring them all and in the extremely competitive gaming market, bind them.

PS: I'll follow-up this entry next week with my perspective on how to make MMOFPS PvE stimulating.