Spinks writes a farewell to Blizzard’s publicly cancelled, unreleased MMO “Titan”. She mentions a bunch of the reasons Titan failed to see light, but the most interesting anecdote is that the biggest successor to World of Warcraft might be Minecraft.
Now we all know that Minecraft is not an MMO in large part because it is not “massive”. One could also argue the persistence of things is in question. However, I think Spinks makes the best implicit point.
The MMO design space people should be exploring should be more like Minecraft than World of Warcraft.
Okay, let me retract a bit. I don’t mean MMO’s should be building and exploration games, although parts of that do help. However, Minecraft is not aimed at progression, and I feel like MMO’s are stuck in this rut of progression first, progress second. At the WildStar event I was invited to long ago I remember overhearing one guest say “we’ve played this game already”. The game of leveling and progressing and getting new skills.
That is why I feel KTR has been lackadaisical about the latest MMO offerings. WildStar is an impressive reimagining of World of Warcraft with a lot of new bits, but then supposedly aimed at a very niche group of players (raiders) so it has a “quitwall“. Elder Scrolls Online, well, I’m just not hearing much about that one. At least WildStar is getting some attention, even if not wholly positive.
I feel like Guild Wars 2 is honestly the only MMO to progress the genre after WoW and EVE. Clearly going 2 years and growing the studio (as opposed to reorganizing, a.k.a. layoffs) makes it a success even if many do not find the game “their thing”. It is still “my thing” because I love the flash mob style gameplay centered around events. I love WvW, even more now that our server is much less hardcore (Tier 1). I feel Guild Wars 2 still stands ahead of most MMOs in terms of progress.
The only MMO I am really excited about at all is Everquest Next because it is really trying to progress the genre. They are even starting with Minecraft in mind by doing Everquest Landmark. However, I am really excited about procedural events / quests. Guild Wars 2 was a good step away from “quests”, and Everquest Next is seeking to push that even a bit further.
The MMO I am most excited about, however, is Ubisoft’s The Division. Like Minecraft, this might not be an MMO per se, but who cares, it feels social and persistent. Ubisoft has been refining it’s open world gameplay this century big time. They’ve got it down to a science with the release of all the new Assassin Creed games, and for me, Assassin Creed games feel a lot like single-player MMO’s.
Anyway, why The Division matters is because it focuses on “phasing”. Phasing, in my opinion, is the future of MMO’s. In The Division‘s case there might be two groups of players each in their own world fighting NPC’s, and then all of the sudden the system phases them together to fight! Phasing will constantly change the content, and that is key.
Phasing could conceivably tailor the experience of each MMO player. Enjoy a lot of PvP, well the system could phase you near hostile players. Enjoy being a solo player, well the system could keep you separated or have you run across other solo players from time to time to see “life”. Events could be phased for a specific portion of the active population.
I feel like with Minecraft (and it’s clear effect on Everquest Next) and The Division, that non-MMO’s are pushing the MMO design space way better than MMO’s. As a nod to developers, I understand that MMO’s are horrible, complex beasts to develop, and the safe route filled with investors is likely “progression over progress” at this point. Safe bets allow for paychecks, for a time, so I understand that. However, as a mere pundit, I can’t help but dream for the stars.