Category Archives: Theoretical Thoughts

Reflections on game design theory and concepts

Weekend – Open Beta Version

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed in EQ2. There are so many different things I want to do that I find myself paralyzed by choice.

This weekend I decided that what I needed was a change of scenery and since both Champions Online and Fallen Earth had open “betas” I figured I’d give them look. I plan on writing a more detailed post on each of them later but here’s my one line review.

Champions: City of Heroes 2.0 or maybe CoX evolved and that’s not a bad thing.

Fallen Earth: The love child of Fallout 3 and Eve with a crafting system that I find very compelling.

More later – the iPhone is ok for short posts but not so much for longer writing.

Grinding Levels

I think it all started a couple of weeks back with Tom Chick explaining why MMO’s are Broken which was basically a re-hash of every “Why this game suxors” post on every MMO forum out there. The next day Trembling Hand jumped on the bandwagon. Scott Jennings over on Broken Toys tried to explain to both of them that first, MMO <> WoW, and secondly, while most MMO’s are fantasy based, they’re not developed in Fantasy Land.

As I said earlier, all of this is stuff that those of us that have been playing these games awhile have heard thousands of times and Scott pretty much nailed the response that we’ve all hashed out over the years. However, yesterday a friend of mine, Pentane, linked this Scientific American article on the Expert Mind. I highly recommend it for all you armchair game designers – even you real world designers will find it interesting but I’m guessing quite a few of you have already read it or some of the books that have been written from those studies. Also yesterday, Psychochild, posted the first in a series of articles on How to Replace Levels.

These two articles combined got me thinking about the whole levels in MMO’s debate again but in a slightly different way and I came up with a kind of challenge – design a multiplayer that doesn’t have levels of some sort.

The trick here is to think of a “level” as a game mechanic that meets the criteria in Psychochild’s post. In other words anything that is used to mark Achievement, provide others Information or help with Pacing through your game world is considered a level. So far I’ve only come up with one way that it can be done and while I think the game might have some interest it would be a decidedly niche game and I wouldn’t want to propose it in today’s market.

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Shifting paradigms in future MMO’s

In his most recent post my friend Pentane raised some interesting points about the state of roleplaying, or the lack of it, in the current crop of MMO’s. As someone that hopes to one day work in the MMO genre there is a lot of food for thought in there but the main point I want to address today is one that he kind of glossed over, the conservative player syndrome.

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