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MMO Developers: I Need More Developer-Driven, FOMO-Causing RP Events In My MMORPGs, Please.

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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I have a few accounts set up on my phone to notify me when they tweet out something. Our official MMORPG.com account, World of Warcraft, my friend Miserable Brian, just to name a few. However, EVE Online is one I've recently turned on the notification bell on because of the story-driven events going on in the MMORPG since last week.

I've written before about how I wish I could get into MMO events like I want to be able to. Most events in an MMO are timed, annual affairs that really don't bring anything new to the table year after year. They don't bring a sense of urgency, rather they feel like something to keep players busy when content is being worked on. 

For me, I want events that feel impactful to the overall game, something that has a sense of urgency - a join in or you'll miss it feeling. Fear of missing out. The last two weeks, EVE Online has offered that. 

As the team built up to this week's Quadrant release, Foundation, NPC-piloted supercapital ships have been bombarding planets in EVE Online as a way to continue the underlying story in New Eden. These attacks to some players at least at first, felt like they might be setting up something outside of EVE proper, but maybe heralding the announcement of EVE's upcoming unannounced MMO project. However, myself I felt like they might be setting up some massive NPC empire war, right as the player empires were still embroiled in their own conflicts in Nullsec. 

Turns out I was on the right track, as Foundation will spotlight the struggles and stories of EVE's founding empires. And as a few days have gone by since that first attack, we've seen more and more planetary bombardments with more and more powerful armadas from these empires. Yesterday's attack on Kahah III saw an Avatar-class Titan, one of the most powerful and expensive ships in all of EVE Online, use its Doomsday weapon on the planet in an attack that also saw a large dreadnought fleet warp in for support. Capsuleers rushed to the site of the attack to ward off the powerful supercapital ships alongside NPC fleets, but one thing was certain: this was an event, like all the others before it, that when it was done, it was done forever. 

Sure, there might be more attacks, and there might even be an attack with a more powerful fleet than a single Titan coming out to play. But this attack, like the others, provided an urgent way to interact with EVE Online's NPC empires in a way that feels meaningful. Helping defend a planet from a Titan-class hull, player or NPC pilot notwithstanding, is something players will talk about for months, maybe even years. That Titan might be the only Avatar-class hull a player sees in person in EVEever

As I see these tweets come through my feed, I find myself logging into EVE Online, eager to send my capsuleer out there to take part in the fight. I feel that sense of urgency, that FOMO at missing the event. Kahah was quite a ways away from me, and I got there too late, but being part of the fight that took down the Gallente dreadnought fleet last week was something I'll remember in EVE for quite sometime.

It's these types of events that make me excited to play a game. Sure, anniversary and annual events have their place. The provide a great way for some players to earn cosmetics, take a break from a leveling grind for a grind of a whole new kind, and have a little fun. For me, though, they don't interest me beyond a few minutes. 

However, an event that feels like it's one of those "where were you when this happened" moments in a game, whether it ends up being important down the road or even just a minor foot note in a game's history has me excited to be there. 

Think back to when Final Fantasy XIV's original iteration shut down. The "end of the world" was a huge deal for players. Those who were there for the event can justifiably look back on it with some pride, knowing they were present for a huge moment in gaming history. Many of the events that we look back fondly on in our MMO lives are player driven: Leroy Jenkins, Level 88 Attained in Lineage II,  The Guiding Hand Social Club theft in EVE Online, or killing Lord British in Ultima Online, but I'm hoping that more and more developers put compelling reasons to rush to my keyboard and log into their game at a moment's notice like CCP Games has been doing the last two weeks.

It may get to the point where these RP events become routine or mundane, but right now when one kicks off, I'm undocking my Machariel to start hunting some dreadnoughts with my capsuleer friends, taking part in an event we'll talk about over a beer at an event down the road (assuming we even have events in person again - thanks, COVID). I like being able to say I helped defend Girani-Fa from the Gallente dreads, or if another Titan spawns, I'll relish the chance to get my name on the killmail

I can only hope that other MMOs see this and look into creating those events that may not be something that happens spontaneously like a player-driven one, but something that nonetheless creates that sense of urgency that gets me excited to take part in the future.


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore