MMO = The Future of Gaming (Sort Of)

Just as it seems almost every game has some kind of RPG element included, I envision a future where every game is played out in a virtual world. Before we can get there, however, we have to find the core elements of what makes an MMO and, more importantly, what makes it fun. There are games that have already experimented with this idea. A prime example is Test Drive: Unlimited. From MMO’s, they took the ideas of exploration and community and blended that into a classic racing formula with excellent results. How long will it be before we see Microsoft Flight Simulator allowing you to see other virtual pilots flying about on a real-world map? How long before Command & Conquer is taking place on a truly global scale with never-ending battles?

These kinds of questions are what you can expect from me. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with the community and hearing what you think about the future of MMOGs.


10 thoughts on “MMO = The Future of Gaming (Sort Of)”

  1. The Terra Nova blog pointed me at VATSIM (, which is even more than virtual pilots on the same map: it’s an entire virtual ATC system for all those virtual pilots!

  2. I don’t know that I agree. There’s a feeling of, for lack of a better term, “specialness” that comes from single player games. Sure, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people may have gathered the Seven Keys of Otis the Drunk and defeated the terrible Barneyfife, but they’re not sitting on your screen in their identical “Armor of Mayberry” in a single player game. When you do something in a non-MMO, it changes the way the game plays from then on. The only place I can think of where this happens in MMOs is in Guild Wars, when you leave the newbie area, and that is, to my knowledge, the only change of that type in the game.

  3. I actually wrote an essay in college that contended that all human social interaction would be tied to virtual worlds as we moved farther and farther into a digital age, and grew more distant and aloof as a community.

    Gone are the town squares, the bowling leagues, etc., and in their place for the next generation is MYSpace, Habbo Hotel, Azeroth…

    I look forward to exploring these ideas, and reading what you have to say on them. Welcome to the team!

  4. In response to BitterCupOJoe:

    These are some of the problems facing game developers right now, and moreso in the future. Obviously, everyone has a need to feel unique and while we are social creatures, we do have a need to be alone sometimes.

    Uniqueness is something that MMOs have always struggled with. At what point does a developer limit the amount it’s going to pay the artists to create new character options? Most will agree, I think, that City of Heroes has the best character creation system of any current MMO. You rarely see two characters that look alike. However, CoH loses the thrill of finally finishing your Tier 2 set of armor after countless raids with your guild. The developer that solves this problem will win major kudos for figuring it out.

    As for being able to be alone at times, I mentioned Test Drive: Unlimited. The game has an option in its menu to disable interactions with other players while not in a multiplayer event. This way of handling it gives players a rich experience whether they are playing solo or with others

  5. The single player games actually make me feel less special. Since when I accomplish something difficult, the only person in the room is my dog, who is most likely asleep. But in an MMO, once I reach a goal I join the ranks of those who have “done task X and wear the Armor of Accomlishment”.

    Of course, in MMOs, usually there are a lot of people who have accomplished a lot more than me as well. And some hard things become trivial when you have your extra powerful friends help.

    So maybe it’s not “specialness” just … “less pathetic” because you feel like you’re with other people not alone in your house.

    I never thought I’d play an online game in the past, now I can’t imagine playing a single player game. The only time I really play one is when my internet is down (and having Comcast that is quite often) and I play a sim-type game.

  6. I think I’ve actually figured out the solution to the Tier2 armor problem, at least somewhat. It involves something similar to the badge system from CoH/V, a very robust programmatic content generator, and a fairly sophisticated faction system. More on that in one of my later posts.

  7. Achieving something that others already have achieved and the disintegration of RL communities are IMO inextricably linked.

    Achieving that “thing” makes you part of the community of achievers. Playing the same game, experiencing the same events, are what make a community, in RL or in an MMO.

    A virtual community is no less real to the people in it than the community of people who happen to share the same area in the space-time continuum, except that you *know* you have stuff in common with the other people in the virtual community (I haven’t got a clue what my neighbours do, nor do I care TBH).

    But, to the original question, and to be obvious, the things that make an MMO an MMO are that are is multiplayer and that it’s online. Without that, you can’t have a community – an MMO without chat/TS/whatever is a no better than a single-player game with smarter-than-average opponents/allies.

    On the other hand, if your question is “what makes a *good* MMO”, well, if I knew that … :-)

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