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How to look cool and get the chicks while playing MMO's

Rants, wild speculation, unfounded theories and general poor quality humor.

Author: MacScarfe

Making the world's worst MMO

Posted by MacScarfe Saturday September 12 2009 at 12:00PM
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So i've decided i want to make the worlds' worst MMO.

Well alright that's not striclty true, i came up with a brilliant idea for an MMO but when i put it down on paper it sucked, sucked beyond suckiness.

So here in true marketing style the bulletin points for the game.

  • 1 Player Class!
  • 1 Zone!
  • Non-persistant world!
  • Levels may drop as well as rise!
  • 1 NPC Enemy!
  • Virtually no PvP!
  • No global chat!
  • Grinding Quests for No experience points!
  • No mini-map!
  • Unique buisness model!
  • And Finally .... Never released always in Open Beta!!!!!!

Sounds truely craptastic dosn't it ...... *sigh*

So let me explain in more detail why i think this is a good idea for an original and unique MMORPG experience.

The Mountain of Gods

1 Zone!, Non-persistant world! and No Mini-map!

So i know the current top of the wishlist is for an open expansive persistant world, but frankly withing the dual contexts of game lore and limited development budgets i can't do this.

The entire game takes place on a mountain top but mainly in the mountain. Essentially a god created a gigantic mountain, leveled the top and ordered his followers to worship there. The temple grew and the monks started to dig into the mountain for extra space until eventually the entire mountain was hollowed out. Another god saw this, didn't like being out done and ordered his followers to take the mountain from the bottom up, which they did. Now the followers of the original god are confined to the mountain top itself and are fighting to retake the entire mountain back. Hence one zone.

So why a non-epersistant world? Okay so this is kinda misnomer. Essentially the original god cursed the mountain once his followers lost control of it and now it is like a massive rubics cube with the corridors and rooms moving from place to place within the mountain. However sects (i.e. guilds) will have the power to extert the gods control over a small area and make it persistant. So you'll have the mountain top and small player controlled pockets within the mountain itself connected/or not to each other by a randomly changing dungeon. Which kinda makes a mini-map pointless as the exit would be that way ... probably, however i would love the ability of players to draw their own maps (of the persistant parts) and trade them to other players.

1 Class!

Okay another misdirection on my part, but this time deliberately. As much as we all like buzz words and sterotypes the twin polar opposites of Theme-park and Sandbox simply don't work as well as they used to do. What would best describe what i'm aiming for would be a themed sandbox skill based game.

However i want to try and encourage, strongly, the themed aspect and thus the 1 class idea. Your all monks of the one god attempting to reclaim your mountain.Okay so your character can specalize in resource mining or tunnelling or creating the persistant areas within the mountain, or even a warrior monk protecting all of the above .... but above all else your a MONK on a holy mission for your god! So to confine you to one class (no matter how meaningless that is inregards to game mechanics) will hopefully foster a specific mentality within the players base, because we all know how a warrior is supposed to behave, how a rogue is supposed to be have etc etc etc, and i want you to behave like a monk.

Lvl's may drop as well as rise, Questing for no exps! and Virtually no PvP!

And of course in a skill based system levels are also redundant arn't they? .......... Well no. The level system is a brilliant and easy to understand tool for both players and developers, it is nothing more than a method of measurement. However tradionally it has been used to measure a generalized and otherwise undefinable quaility of a player. We all know that a lvl 1 toon would stand no chance a againt a lvl 50 toon, and that the lvl 1 player is called an 'apprentice' and the lvl 50 a master. It's an excellent generalised system of measurement and it's just we tend to use it to measure something which dosn't always need measuring.

So lets use the level system to measure something else then. Typically religons, temples and monastaries rule on a strict hieratical system, one person is in control, below him is another rank, below that etc etc etc. So lets use the level system only the political/religous power off the character. The higher the level the further up the structure you are and because this game is set in a fantsay setting and not some realistic environment, there will come to a point that the only way to advance in level is to take out someone above you. This highly ritualized form of PvP will be the only form of PvP in the game, a game where you all worship the same god and your all striving for the same end.

And with levels being a measure of political power, experience points are of course pretty much useless, so quests become about resource gathering (and thus not strictly speaking essential to the basic game play). Now obviously there are many many different types of resources, from good old bricks to reenforce the tunnels to doing good deeds to be seen as more pious, which would be the basic starting point for a political career. Either way the exps system so beloved of the majority of MMO's will be thrown out of the window.

1 Enemy!

No this is a little more complex than it at first appears. This is not simply an expedient way to reduce the number of models the artists need to produce, i want this to be much more than this. Currently NPC monsters are as Artifically Intelligent as a wet paper bag and the different shape and sizes and attack types of each monster is there to simply help hide that fact that there as dumb as a stump. You need to kill 10 x then go to y where they aimlessly wander around and you can kill them happily (careful not to aggro the next group) as their breathern look on.

I hope that by reducing the number of monsters to 1 speices we can spend more time on developing a multileveled AI that will produce a far more plausable and challenging opponent for the player. For as much as you the player is on a mission to reclaim the mountain the npc mobs are on a mission to keep the mountain, both sides have goals and both sides should be developing unique tactics to fullfill their goals.

No global chat!

As much as i hate global chat as an immersion buster i understand why, except in a very specific set of circumstances, it is essential to the community of an MMO. I just want to try and create those very specific set of circumstances that mean a global chat system isn't needed. The majoirty of the actual 'game' the hacking/slashing/mining etc takes place in an ever shifting labyrinth .... i want to create a sense of isolationalism for the players to explore. I want a proximity based communication system. I want players to almost hear the echos of their footsteps as they they are the first monks to discover a gigantic library within the mountain, i want them to feel small and disconnected from the rest of the game for that time. But then i also want them to come back to the hustle and bustle of the mountain top safe area, i want them to hear their neighbours prayers or conversations, you could say i want them to smell the feet of the monk next to them.

I want the mountain cold and empty, i want the mountain top hot and noisy and i think a proximity based communication system would help acheieve this.

The Unique business model! and permanent Open Beta!

Again here i want to attempt to change the customers relationship with the development company by subverting exisiting sterotypes held by the customer base.

This game will never be finished, NEVER, and neither should it be because it is my firm opinion that any MMO that dosn't continue to eveolve after release would have a lifespan measured in minutes not years. However thanks to the traditonal video game industry (there's a mind boggling idea in itself considering how few scant years the video game industry has exisited) the customer base has a preconcied notion of what a released game should be and typically these notions are to the detriment of the MMO industry. Seriously how many times do we have to debate endlessly whether game A or B is ready for release?

Because of the way that MMO's are typically developed (and there is some argument to be made as to if this is the right approach in the first place) with heavy player input, groupings of people natturally emerge to fight for a comminly held belief inregards to their vision for the game. In this atmosphere of lobbying no one is ever going to be happy, it's not possible to develop a game that the majoirty of people who have tested it believe that the game has been developed correctly and therefore a game can never be ready for release.

It seems a symplistic solution to the problem, but why not forget about releasing the game, stay in open beta, make it clear to the players that is what is going to happen and that things are going to change and mutate through out the history of the game and that is that. Encourage the openness of feedback from an Open Beta while avoiding the dissappointment and sheer hate of a Release.

Now down to the thorney subject of money. Okay P2P or F2P or RMT ......... oh buggar it i can't decide so lets go all three and more. For the fundamental truth of any small company is the balance between incomings and outgoings is set by the companies attitude not by what the market will bear. Get a little larger and then you have less freedom to do what you want and have to play to the customers more. So what you have to do is cast your customer net as far as possible, within the confines of the very obvious niche this game would play within, while keeping your operating costs to the bare minimum.

So as a sidenote to you graphic junkie ... this is not the game for you, this game needs to be playable on the widest possible number of machines. Upto and including my wife's laptop ... which i can happily admit was a pity buy on my part, because she'll never read this blogg and realise the truth.

So we need to be fexable in the way we accrue our income. So firstly your paying to play a beta! Get it through your heads, this is an open beta and your paying to play it. If you don't like the idea this isn't the game for you.

Token fee to download the client (five dollar sounds good) as i personally think this will cut out a lot of time wasters and possibly even some griefers.
Micro transaction shop ...... okay i understand the rabid hate on the part of some people towards them but you have to understand that as a small game company with an uncertain future this is a good possible source of cash. Now without casting any judgement on any other comapnies cash shops there would for THIS game have to be a few givens and of course some inventive use of said cash shop. No major game altering items for sale, lets keep to fluff and 'minor healing potions' type items. But what about the tutorial ..... no i havn't gone off on a tangent, lets read that again .... 'What about the tutorial?' ..... okay here's the pitch, ONCE an account has completed the ingame tutorial, from then on the player can bypass the tutorial and aquire a package of starter items based on the specalization you want that character for ... for a nominal fee, lets say a dollar? I personally think this is a good use for cash shops.

Okay here's the biggie, and the one i think that will land me in the most hot water. Why can't MMO subs be more like Mobile Phone's? Typically with Mobile Phones they come in 2 sorts, contract or pay as you go, and to my mind i think you should be able to switch between the two as you need. So standard contract, and remember were only a small company casting our net as far as possible in a small pool, so standard normal MMO contract 10 dollar a month. But for the pete's sake surely in this day and age it wouldn't been too technically difficult to operate a pay by the minute system for players ... especially casual players. Now i have no idea about the legal and consumer rights aspect of this ... and that would be where i would be spending some of my hard earned development budget ... legal advice, but technically i can see no reason why we can't run a pay as you go system for the players.

In conclusion

What were talking about here isn't a mainstream MMO, heck lets face it the aim of the game here is to make one that would be profitable with only a 10k sub base, but that's by the by. What we have here is a clearly defined niche game backed by a committed (or needed to be committed) small focused dev team. Unique and entertaining, for a small and hardcore family of players, were talking about busting through pre-concived ideas about MMO's and where we can't do that perverting exisiting MMO taboo's to our advantage. What were talking about is an attempt to create a cult classic, and that would make me very happy.

When will you see this game grace the internet? As soon as i win a couple of million on the lottery. But don't dismiss the idea out of hand, think some of my ideas over and while at first they might not appeal to you, i hope after some reflection you'll see that some or all of them have merit.

P.S. I'll edit for spelling, grammer and reality later when i give a damn


risenbones writes:

You know what that kinda actually makes sence sorta.  I guess I would probably give that game at least a try.  Interesting ideas all round really especially the different payment options.  Hope you win the lottery soon then :P

Sat Sep 12 2009 1:21PM Report
Vexe writes:

...What's a worset?

Sat Sep 12 2009 2:01PM Report
DaX.9 writes:

You forgott no music, 1 sound FX and hand drawn graphic. :-)

Sun Sep 13 2009 8:57AM Report
Mystik86 writes:

For some reason this makes too much sense for me to really try to come out with a good response. There's nothing I can say really to add a sparkle to this article... Bump!

Sun Sep 13 2009 1:28PM Report
todayisblue writes:

you have a lot of interesting ideas and i am in full support of you pursuing them. thank you for the worthwhile read. bump. ^_^ 

Sun Sep 13 2009 6:22PM Report
Trucidation writes:

 Sounds a bit like a roguelike, albeit a multiplayer one. It's not that bad, I can see it working.

Sun Sep 13 2009 9:40PM Report
Malakhon writes:

Add the folowing;


1. It will be played on Abacus instead of a computer.

2. It will not be networked. Each player will write their moves on paper and mail them through post office to another player.

3. This is pure fantasy, and it will never happen anyway.

4. Steal Underpants.



Sun Sep 13 2009 9:57PM Report
MacScarfe writes:

@DaX.9 :- Actually i had completely ignored the sound aspect of the game, i can't believe i'd forgotten about one major plank in the game environment. Sound can either kill or cure the atmosphere of the game, music i'm not so fussed on but the FX can highten the isolation of the dungeon or the claustraphobia of the main meeting places.

@Malakhon :- While i'm in total agreement with points 3 and 4 (especially 4), points 1 and 2 make me think this might not be the game for you or i simply have been too vague (in an attempt to protect the IP in the rare case that i should actually one day win the lottery) and have failed to explain that while the game should be made to be playerable on a wide range of computers, it's feature set should position it ahead or at a complete right angle to the main stream MMO industry. If within five years of release of this game, one or more of the ideas behind this game have made it into the main stream, then i would be very pleased indeed.

On a sidenote :- Lets be honest, i think i'd need to use an off the shelf graphics engine to cut the development time, one which has low client spec's, a cheap licensing agreement and lots of flexability in design so it can be easily built upon (as it is the foundations of the house not the house itself). If anyone knows of anything like this with at least WoW level graphics, please give a call ... (and your underpants).

Mon Sep 14 2009 7:44AM Report
AnvilMAn writes:

thats easy, just give smedley free reign

Wed Sep 16 2009 11:11PM Report writes:
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