How I Would Build The Ultimate MMO
If you’re not familiar, Star Wars: The Old Republic runs on the Hero Engine. I recently ran across an ad for the Hero Engine for $99/year, plus 30% of profits. That’s a pretty affordable price for a group of friends to build their own ideal MMO. Some game engines are even free. Feelings aside on the Hero Engine itself (It’s gotten a lot of flak for being…ungood.), it’s gotten me to thinking what I would put in my own MMO. Guild Wars 2 has taken the biggest step in the right direction. It took a lot of the aggravating, annoying but necessary parts of MMOs, and created better ways of doing those things. Well, i’m confident I can take it one step further, and make it even better. Next-Next-Gen!
Free To Play
Every game needs its freeto players (free-to). Let’s face it, we’re all not part of the top 1% of the world. Being free removes any barriers to trying a game, and gets you lots of warm bodies on opening day. When I say free, I don’t mean completely free. Let’s be realistic, a game that doesn’t make money doesn’t stay live. Funding games through cosmetic and convenience items has proven profitable time and again (League of Legends, Guild Wars 2). I want as many players as I can stuff onto my servers. Populated servers make for happy players. Let the players decide how they want to be monetized.
World of Warcraft had about a 6-9 month long content cycle. That was a bit long for me. Guild Wars 2 on the other hand has new content every two weeks. That is way, way too short for me. I want to be compelled to log into a game because it’s fun, not because i’ll miss something forever if I don’t. Star Wars: The Old Republic has a 6 – 8 week content cycle, but it realistically lands on the 8 week side every time. I think this is a good pace.
Lately, some games have been adding a player made content option. I think this is such a phenomenal idea, because it lets players create content FOR the developers. And players want to do this. Whether it’s to show off their creative side, or getting to make some real world money on the side. Check out Landmark, EverQuest Next, and Planetside 2 for examples.
Star Wars Galaxies had such vast, open worlds, it has put every other MMO landscape to shame. I want an epic feel when I mount up, and look out towards my destination. Early on in MMOs, the feeling of exploration is great. You don’t know what’s beyond the trees, across the river, or over the hill. After a few characters, or even levels, the familiarity sets in. I want open worlds where I can just ride for 30 minutes in any direction without reaching a zone wall. Loading screens do not make for an epic feel. I can tolerate one occasionally, but let’s not go crazy with it.
This is a must have for me. A place to customize and call home. It doesn’t have to be fancy at all. Keeps, Castles, or whatever other structures are appropriate for the setting would be available as well. Player created towns are such a great social opportunity. Back in Star Wars Galaxies, our guild’s player city hosted a traveling band one night in our cantina. The band went from town to town playing. A band traveling from tree to tree just doesn’t have the same feel.
I hate leveling for the sake of leveling. Levels separate players, and that means it can separate friends too. Horizontal leveling lets you group with your friend, and still progress your own character too. I wouldn’t mind an initial leveling phase like Guild Wars 2, and then have everything plateau out at the final level. Having to ditch your friends, or waste your own time, isn’t a productive use of valuable free time.
Crafters, entertainers, or whatever else people can think of. I love the idea of classes focused on something besides combat. I’d probably never play one, but it adds to the game’s atmosphere for me. Some people don’t play games because of the combat, so this path gives a viable option for people to try. Non-combat classes opens up a game to a whole new group of players.
Guild Wars 2 has World versus World, Star Wars: The Old Republic has Galactic Starfighter, and the upcoming title Archeage has naval combat. An MMO needs that one thing that no other game has. A feature that sets it apart from the crowd. Content so good that it is bound to be copied by the next MMO coming to market.
Recipe For MMO Success
I have absolutely no professional training on game development. Only the experience of over a decade of playing video games. So how did I do? Think you’d give my MMO a try? If not, what would you put into your MMO? There’s been a lot of Star Wars stuff lately, so hopefully this heals break the monotony. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!