Thursday, March 08, 2007

Play Within Your Game

Over the last year or so there has been quite a bit of talk regarding the "next big MMO" to come out. Translation: which MMO is going to beat WoW. This is, of course, the wrong approach to take when you're trying to create an MMO that people will find fun. If you're main goal is to beat WoW, you essentially create that which you are trying to beat...which, you can never really do, so in the end you loose. I've come across this myself in life, particularly in sports where I'm trying to play a game, say basketball, and I continually get beat by the same guy. Over time, you start just to concentrate on beating him instead of playing your game...never good. The big phrase in my current golf game right now is to "play within yourself". The second you start to play beyond your capabilities or think of the other guy, you're screwed.

I'm very encouraged by the news coming out of some of the leading minds in MMO design. Some of their thoughts of what they're learning from WoW seem to be on the right track. I'm hearing things like " where WoW isn't". To me, this points to developers leaning towards playing to their strengths and not solely concentrating on beating WoW. I agree, they should definitely take what works in WoW to evolve their own game play....but they should put the cookie cutters away when they sit down at their design meetings. I know, its a subtle difference, but its a big one as far as I'm concerned.

As much as some don't like to admit it, we're not going to see a ground breaking MMO for some time to come. Nothing out there, on my radar screen at least, represents something so amazing that it will change the way MMOs currently work. We've seen one gendre changer already in WoW, so its unlikely that one will come along within the next couple of years. This is a kinda shaky prediction, but there it is. The best that MMOs can do now is to a) play within themselves, b) don't think of WoW when you design, c) apply evolution , not revolution to your game design.

D out.


Cuppycake said...

What do you think of the idea that its not going to take something "amazing" or genre changing to become "The next WoW". Raph and Mark K at GDC just had a panel that suggests that polish is everything. I blogged about it this morning if you're interested. I'd like to hear if you agree.

darrenl said...

hmmm, interesting....let me take a look and I'll comment over at your site.