Jester has a post up about how Sovereignty works in EVE, and how the game might benefit from borrowing some ideas from Perpetuum in that area. A good read as always, and it brings up a larger point: competition amongst MMOs can be a good thing, and ultimately if the devs are smart the real winners are the players.
Devs being smart is something that seems to be lacking in the genre of late.
Take for instance Rift. In beta, when Rift was limited to only one large zone (the 1-20 game), it was a great game. Players quickly learned which areas were the elite ‘tough’ areas, which parts were easier, and the different hubs truly felt like hubs given the player activity and uses. Combine this setup with how the invasion system worked back then (far more active, more impact to hubs), and while the ‘world’ back then was still a zone, it felt much larger and grander than the typical themepark zone.
The day-before-release nerf to invasions happened. The after-20 zone layout happened. And finally 1.2 happened.
And while this is just me speculating, IMO Trion tried to WoWify Rift. More speculating; they did it because WoWbies tried Rift and wanted it to be, well, WoW. It’s what the locust do after all. How’s that working out for Rift now? It’s one thing to ask your community for suggestions and such. It’s another to just blindly give the players exactly what they are asking for, regardless of how it fits into your game or what you originally set out to do.
What if Rift, start to finish, was like the beta version of the game? The one that was near-universally praised. The version that, for those how tried it, saw a game that, while still firmly themepark, at least felt a little different. Had a little more… MMO to it?
What if Rift borrowed from Guild Wars? 1-20 level game just to teach you the basics, and then all zones tuned to level 20, each one different based on theme and setting rather than level range. Make invasions really matter, allow them to dominate a zone to the point the players are ‘locked out’ until they rally together and fight back. At worst, one of the ten zones you can visit as a lvl 20 is blocked, big deal. Expand the game in that area, horizontally, rather than just repeating the same world event every few months, tacking on raids, and having everyone wait for the inevitable level increase and total content reset/replacement.
But, because while Rift was still cooking, WoW had its 11m ‘subs’, Trion borrowed from Blizzard rather than a different source. Same can be said for Mythic and WAR, Funcom and AoC, and today BioWare and SW:TOR. The results are in for WAR/AoC/Rift, and it’s not rocket science to predict what SW is going to look like in 5 months.
What’s amusing about all of this is that, because EQ1 had 500k subs and UO/AC ‘only’ had 100-250k, the big suit copy/paste monkeys looked at EQ1. And it works for a while, because for all its faults, at least EQ1 was still an MMO. And so was WoW origin. And… well we all know how things went, and what the ultimate result is.
So now, does the genre gravitate back towards EQ1-style design, or does it go full-circle to its roots, where we start seeing teams create worlds and make them work, rather than settling on a theme and tossing in some MMO concepts to calling it a day?
Is it 6 months yet?