Nikhil TanejaJul 24, 2007 18:00:00 IST
Let me start off by admitting that I’m a complete MMOG-holic, to the extent that the mere mention of a new MMOG gets my pulse running. The persistent worlds these MMOGs have to offer are a major draw for such games, especially for the well made ones, since they allow you to experience and become part of a whole living, breathing universe. The feeling of being part of something that epic, albeit fake (rather imaginary) is indescribable - it’s somewhat like being part of a never-ending movie or TV series you like, where you’re not the protagonist but just a small guy trying to leave his mark in the world, while he sees the great events that’ll shape his world unfold around him. There are so many games I’ve come across that had the base set for a great MMOG, but their developers preferred to keep them restricted to either single-player or multiplayer gameplay on a small scale. I’ve taken such games and dumped them here, along with my thoughts...
The Zone (where the game takes place) is the area where the Chernobyl nuclear incident took place, leaving back residual (and other) radiation that’s left most of its inhabitants – animals and otherwise, mutated. The general populace of the Zone consists of scavengers, guilds that dedicate themselves to securing the Zone, bounty hunters and those eager to find out more about ground zero and its effect on the life around it (read: scientists/researches) – you have the base for an MMOG right there! Imagine playing as a Stalker or a researcher, where you could venture deep into the Zone along with your guild, searching for rare artifacts and valuable goods you could trade for and territories you could proclaim as your own.
The factions included in the game itself had potential for some pretty interesting quests and deep backstories – the Duty for instance is a faction that consists of ex-military who’ve ventured into the zone and made it their mission to eradicate all the mutated miscreants infesting it. The Freedom on the other hand were a more liberal minded and forgiving lot – imagine playing as a member of either faction, taking on missions, venturing deeper into the Zone as you level up, exploring uncharted territories to set up base for your guild/faction... the possibilities are limitless. On the other hand, imagine playing as part of the mutated factions; makes for quite an action-packed MMOG, don’t you think?
In Freelancer you played the role of a small-time freelancing space pilot who’s caught up in a large political and inter-species war. Although the space maverick bit had been done many times before it (the Escape Velocity series for instance), it’d never merged RPG elements with action-based gameplay as well as Freelancer did. You could actually pilot your ship around the universe, travel to distant galaxies via an array of stargates, trade goods to make dough or hunt space pirates. An MMO-based on this game should be a little like EVE Online, but it should control exactly like Freelancer did, allowing you to engage in ‘WASD’ controlled dog-fights.
The different factions like the LSF, the Pirates or the Aliens could offer their own ship upgrades/weapons if you’d join them, allowing you to customize your ships the way you want them. To keep you from using all the most powerful weapons in one ship, they could probably restrict you by making you balance the amount of power the weapon would consume, with the ship’s power-core’s output capacity. Imagine setting up a whole armada of guildmates and their ships to set up base deep in an unexplored system – simply amazing! This is the kinda stuff that’d fuel the geekiness in the best (or the worst, in some cases) of us.
Blade of Darkness
With its deep and engaging combat system, Blade of Darkness had a gory charm of its own – it allowed you to actually fight with the severed limbs of your foes as a weapon, if you chose to be really unforgiving. Imagine playing such a game in a persistent world that borrows its scale from the Battlefield gameplay, and action from 300 – large scaled, squad-based melee warfare FTW! There would be more than just the PvP battles of course; to learn new moves and stuff you’d have to travel to different parts of the game’s world and meet different NPCs.
That said, the PvP would certainly be the main aspect of the game. If you’ve played World of Warcraft and leveled a character to 60, chances are, you’ve been to the Alterac Valley battleground – now imagine playing something of that sort where you’ve gotta capture nodes while you slaughter your enemies, with slightly faster paced gameplay, using controls similar to that in Blade of Darkness !
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion was an awesome experience for a veteran RPGer like me, as well as a hardcore action gamer like Nash. The fact that it allowed you to control in real-time using ‘WASD’ + mouse to control your attacks, went a long way in making the game more appealing to a vaster audience. Isn’t that what MMOGs are about... mass appeal? I mean how many people do you know that don’t play World of Warcraft because its got ‘clickity-click’ based control? The fact that the game would control just like an action game, would instantly make this game a hit amongst the audience that loved action based RPGs.
The game world could be similar to Cyrodiil, only a lot bigger and with more cities and a lot more dungeons. I’m sure that those of you who’ve played Oblivion must’ve hoped at some point, that you could play the game with more people – imagine having a whole awesome crafting system in place that’d allow you to craft armor to fit your guildmates and at the same time, please them aesthetically. The world that we’ve seen in all the Elder Scrolls games have been perfect for MMOGs, I just don’t understand why no one’s made one yet.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Most MMOGs revolve around mythical creatures or space explorer–stuff rooted in either fantasy or Science fiction. The urban, real-life approach hasn’t been well explored before, and could offer a lot both character class and gameplay wise, and still be as diverse and interesting as a fantasy MMORPG. Imagine playing the role of a policeman, a drug lord, a pimp, or anything as simple as a pizza delivery guy in an alternate, more corrupt, crime filled world. The possibilities are truly endless, but a successful MMO of this kind would be really hard to pull off.
Starting your own gang, taking over a chunk of the city as your turf, bribing dirty cops to cover your trails – it would all be possible in such a game. The feeling of setting up your own empire of crime would be yours for the taking should you chose that path. If not, you could just choose to be a low profiled hitman or a vigilante crime fighter busting some serious criminal ass. The key here would be the world interactivity, which would allow you to access everything from indoor to outdoor locations in an extremely large country of its own. Oh man, if they ever made GTA IV’s multiplayer mode this way, I’d give a left... ermm... ‘vital organ’ to play it.
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