Saying I love a good mmo is an understatement. I was/am pathologically addicted to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft which I havent played in well over a year and still get cravings for. And even though I know I’ll likely get addicted for weeks or even months at a time, I can’t resist exploring a new online virtual world when my friends discover it and pass the word on. But I’ve noticed a few trends, and I have some ideas about what draws me to pushes me away from and MMO.

Character development: MMOs are powered by providing a sense of achievement based on time/effort spent to achieve a goal with a sense of risk of failure. One of the main ways this is achieved is through levelling up one’s character. Once one has killed enough goons, delivered enough crates, and generally performed enough nearly repeditive tasks, one’s character becomes more powerful, allowing pne to perform cooler nearly repeditive tasks in cooler ways. One of my personal motivations to level a character is the sense of customisation it brings. When one first creates a character, one develops a vague sense of who this virtual person is. As the character levels up new options such as combat styles, spell paths, gear choices and novelty modifications become available, allowing the character to grow. One’s connection with one’s character becomes stronger because this mimics human interactions leading to a greate understanding of the other person. This of course leads to wanting to see more of the character and thus wanting to level up faster.

World Immersion:One of the other things I find a powerful draw to any mmo is a sense of being a part of the world, rather than an outside force of monster killing. The more one feels one can change things in the world, the more one becomes concerned with it. The outcomes of ones actions, the outcomes of one’s inaction. This is done through a variety of ways, the main one of which is well written quests and missions, which is often enough for many people, but never enough for me. The crafting system is often where I go for my “write your own story” immersion and thus it can often make or break an MMO for me. I like to be able to decide to craft a useless item, or an item that works in an unexpected way. World of Warcraft’s engineering proffession was far and a way my favourite, allowing you to create all manner of in world marvels, of course, these were all temporary as one could never truly make any permanent changes to the world. WURM online however did allow this, and did so very well, allowing one to plant trees, build houses, and even shape the landscape itself, but in doing this it sacrificed most of the other drawing aspects of an MMO. What I would like to see, even if I have to build it myself, is an MMO system where the users can help design new items, recipes, buildings, quests and npcs in an expanding world alongside or as proffessional designers/writers. So that one can partake in the adventures of the world and then create one’s own! The only issue with this is every game designer’s fear: ballance. City of Heroes introduced just one of these ideas and instantly found themselves inundated with completely unballanced custom missions by everyone who wanted a quick way to the top. I think the key to my ideal system working is that npcs would be subject to the same restrictions as players, thus meaning that no-one has the ability to make something out of nothing.

My Perfect System: A virtual world in which players/administrators design classes and add them to the system in real time and then, in-game, instantiate these classes according to the methods of other classes. The administrators may choose to create a certain amount of content before going live, such as defining basic classes for “creature”, “money” etc to get things such a combat system set in stone, or even create a base world for players to expand upon. A player may create as many characters as one likes, assuming one has the in-game resources for the new characters to come into being, and when the user is not playing the characters, they remain in the world running off player defined ai scripts.

I think if I can build this system, I won’t have to keep searching for the next best thing in MMOs, because all my desires for such things will have been fulfilled.

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