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The Future is Mod

Dan Fortier Posted:
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MMOWTF: The Future is Mod

Dan Fortier returns this week for a special Friday edition of MMOWTF. This time around, Dan tackles the idea of player created mods and the possibilities for MMORPG gaming.

Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Staff Writer Dan Fortier. The column is called "MMOWTF" and will look at some of the stranger or more frustrating events in MMOs as seen by Mr. Fotier. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.

Once again that evil taskmaster Stradden has tasked me to continue my attempts at a coherent article. When he wasn't looking, I crumpled up the draft he approved and snuck this into the "Throughly proofread and Sanitized" bin. Only time will tell if this makes it to your monitor though. What kind of vile and horrific material would be worth the horrible beating with Canadian Bacon I will no doubt take for releasing it to you? Use your scroll wheel to find out if you dare!

The truth is, if you've spent more than twenty minutes reading Allakhazam's website or the DAoC Team Lead Forums, you know most every dirty little secret I could tell you. What I really want to get off my chest came to me while playing a bit of Neverwinter Nights 2. If you played the original you know that the game's strength was that it gave the players the same toolset that was used to create the default campaign. Coupled with a decent stand alone server program and DM client, it wasn't long before a whole slew of Persistent Worlds popped up based on everything from Call of Cthullu to Wahammer. Most of these worlds had extremely limited capacity, but had strong dedicated fans and great ongoing DM'ed adventures that changed the course of the world. Some of them even implemented features that some big name MMOs are missing, like player housing and arena combat.

While these MORPGs were entertaining and diverse, Bioware also heavily supported the modders who cranked out everything from nude avatars to entirely new tilesets. This is part of the reason I'm excited to see what shambles out of the Austin studio in the next few years. By giving players intuitive tools to create their own worlds and adventures, they gained themselves a loyal fan base that is still around for the most part, several months after the release of the sequel. Is there a lesson learned here and what does the success or failure of a game with only partial online content have to do with the future of MMOs? Quite a bit, I hope.

With Will Wright already dancing down the path toward Massively Single Player games with SPORE, it's not a big stretch to say that we could see an MMO featuring player created shards and/or tons of player created content sometime soon. There are quite a few logistic issues involved, of course, since most of the things players create wouldn't be very well made or appropriate for public distribution. Considering some of the halfway broken offerings the genre is famous for, I don't see how it could hurt. Why not develop a really great MMO engine that anyone could use to make their own world, then charge a monthly fee for the use of their servers for hosting your creation?

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one," goes the song, although I can't figure out why that popped into my head. Oh well, take this little brainstorm session for what it's worth then head back to the cookie cutter treadmill. I'll be here till next week, taking my licks for writing something inoffensive. G'day m8s!

Article edited and approved by Stradden. No Canadian Bacon was hurt in the editing of this column.


Dan Fortier