At first glance one might dismiss this gem of an idea and logically conclude that the overlap between hip-hop fans and MMO players is rather slim. You might also be thinking “wtf does rap music have to do with grinding XP and elves”? But before we move on from this incoming disaster, let’s see just how different a Rap-based MMO would be from what we play today.
Called Platinum Life, the microtransactions-based title will take standard free-to-play role-playing game mechanics and adapt them to a hip-hop music-scene setting. Players will take the role of an aspiring musician who must earn “fame,” the game’s version of experience points. This is accomplished primarily by playing shows in the game, where players will perform existing hip-hop hits by engaging in Guitar Hero-like, pattern-matching rhythm minigames and more traditional RPG actions.
So, they are already setting the bar low by going F2P instead of sub, which means unreleased this game is at least better than 50% of all F2P games out today. Plus you can pay a few bucks to buy an iced-out chain or sweet rims for your ride, which are WAY cooler than the normal pink dress you can buy in most F2P cash shops. And pattern-matching rhythm minigames? Sounds like WoW raiding to me, and EVERYONE loves WoW. Just rotate which event is the ‘daily’ event and bam, 11 million customers.
Platinum Life will also incorporate other RPG elements, such as non-player characters. NPCs can also be used as back-up musicians or DJs during shows, although Heatwave CEO Anthony Castoro, a former Ultima Online developer, said that players will be encouraged to form their own groups. These groups will be able to take advantage of a certain level of music-creation tools, but will act more like a party in a traditional RPG, using spell-like special abilities to move the virtual crowd.
So they are avoiding forced grouping, but encouraging players to team up, a valuable MMO lesson learned. You also know the big bouncer guy will be your tank, the hot chick will be the healer (moral booster, get it?), and your old buddies from the block will be your DPS (they always pack heat, being stuck in that hood mentality). And throwing in a guy who was a dev on UO, genius!
As a player becomes more famous, the size of his NPC entourage will increase–as will the “drama” the NPCs in said entourage creates. This drama system will task the player with missions, such as helping out an entourage member who is in a troubled relationship or in trouble with the law.
To translate the above, what they are basically creating is the current raiding dynamic. The better your raiding guild, the more people want to join in, and your loot drama is sure to increase. Why deal with some random people over the internet for drama when you can get it from NPCs? Remember, NPCs don’t ultimately care if you abuse them, so now everyone can play the raid leader screaming at his players to avoid the whelps as they raid Onyxia, and who out there does not want to be THAT guy?
Speaking of legal troubles, Castoro was emphatic that Platinum Life would not be as violent as other hip-hop themed games, such as Def Jam Icon or 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand. Though players can get into scuffles with rival crews, there won’t be any shooting or killing.
Look, the guy is basically saying “our game is carebear”, and we all know carebear sells. They have clearly done their homework here, and are bringing the best of ALL worlds to this future MMO. I’m sold!