Community Blog Spotlight: I Have Dream
Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at a blog from MMORPG.com user Vajuras, discussing "Appealing to the Hardcore PvP Crowd" and "Player Run Universes".
Blogger Vajuras, like many users on our website and forums, is part of the "vocal minority" movement of gamers. The mass appeal today is with games like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Ring Online: games that take what has been done and polish it to perfection. Players like Vajuras, though, are speaking up for innovation and new ideas: appealing to niche markets instead of the mass one, and evolving gameplay as an art.
Vajuras' blog starts off with an article titled, "Appealing to the Hardcore PvP Crowd". The entry starts off by comparing our MMO characters to our favorite book and movie characters: in books and movies, we watch as our favorite characters progress and grow, from the village farmer to the center of world-saving efforts. "This is the great thing about RPGs: they take this transition and take gamers through this process." We start off as level 1 fighters and mages, embark on epic quests, class transfers, and so forth, and end up as a max-level badass who can do just about anything.
Here Vajuras brings up the issue of hardcore PvP, an anomaly from the usually hack-and-slashing the same Orcs for hours in the same field. Now, Vajuras is realistic and acknowledges that this very activity, that PvE in general, is a great appeal to most MMOers, especially the casual players, but there is a good portion of PvPers out there, and Vajuras feels that they aren't getting what they want. Developers, as Vajuras sees it, often worry about appealing to the mass crowd: something they HAVE to do, since the only path to money is keeping continued subscribers.
"The only game I've seen break this mold is Guild Wars. In Guild Wars you can create a max level toon and from that point all progression is linear. This is a great feature for PvPers and I hope we see more games that sort of follow in their vein."
Why is Guild Wars able to break the normal MMO mold? As Vajuras sees it, it's simple: "They make their money based on the hardcore crowd that continues to buy their title. They can afford to innovate but MMOs are trying to achieve mass appeal and collect subscriber money."
In short, instead of tapping 30% of the overall MMO population, Guild Wars taps into 80% of the hardcore PvPers, and it works for them.
The article continues with discussion about hardcore PvP systems, from looting to safe zones, from banking to The Grind. Vajuras ends the article with a list of FFA PvP games currently available, such as EVE Online, Starport, and others.
Vajuras' second article is titled, "Player Run Universes" and centers - not surprisingly - on the 'sandbox' idea of allowing players to create their own content.
"I have a dream," the article begins, "I dream of the ultimate sandbox MMO whereas I'm free to explore any area of the world, work together with the community to build awesome cities, and run the game world ourselves with a 100% player driven conomy (or at least one where everything can be bought and bartered for with the ingame currency)." This is another common thread we've seen from long time MMO players, who wish for more niche-titles than mass-appeal polish.
The majority of this article discusses Vajuras' findings on sandbox games. Pirates of the Burning Sea is at the top of his list: a game that offers a player run economy, less emphasis on player levels, player looting, the capacity for multiple forms of gameplay (both land and sea), and player-run ports. Other games on the list include: EVE, Darkfall, Starport, and Saga of Ryzom: the common thread through all of these games is the lack of raiding or endgames.
While it does have an endgame - and much more literally than any other endgame I've seen - I want to add A Tale in the Desert to Vajuras' list. This game, while small, allows players to do big things: there are no actual cities aside from those built by players; the very rules and laws of the game are implemented based on player-voted laws; all technology and "quests" are unlocked by player participation, and often involve forcing players to work together or against each other in interesting scenarios. Unfortunately, without combat or spiffy graphics, ATITD often gets looked over as a dud.
All said and done, both of Vajuras' blog articles were interesting reads, and I feel that they accurately and eloquently give voice to a large number of gamers. I look forward to more blog entries for: "I Have a Dream.".
You can read all of Vajuras' entries here.
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