I’ve tried to express my feelings about how today’s MMOs don’t seem to have the sense of adventure they once did. Oh sure, we’re seeing promises of new whizz-bang game mechanics and cool features. But once you get past the initial Oooos and Aaahhhs they always come down to the same basic concept.
Basically, a Game Developer creates an interesting story. Then they create an interesting setting with cool out of this world races and characters. Then it’s up to the players to level a character, gain equipment and skills. Then somewhere along the line, someone sends them off to kill an some power hungry, egocentric, evil doer that suffers from Mommy and Daddy issues saving the world from an apocalypse. HURRAY!!
It would seem that this formula would allow for an infinite amount of possible story ideas.
Then why do MMOs today seem tired and worn out? I don’t mean comfy old jeans worn out either. I mean the annoying hole in the crotch, busted button, stuck zipper kind of worn out!
I’m sure everyone has a theory on this. So here’s mine.
I think what causes everyone to eventually feel “Meh!” about their favorite MMO is one four letter word… Math!
Yes, I know! This is nothing new. People have been saying this very same thing for years.
Yes, I also know computers are basically complex calculators.
And yes, YES! I know Math has been a critical part of Role Play Gaming since its humble beginnings.
Fine!! I’ll compromise. Maybe it’s not the existence of Math that’s the issue, but HOW Math is used!
Here, let me try and explain.
Under the layers of user interface, storyline, and quest delivery mechanisms we can basically say every encounter is based upon a simple formula.
Player Damage > NonPlayer Character Total Health + Heals
Once we know what our Total Damage output, we can then establish what each player’s Damage Per Second should be in order to achieve the desired result within the shortest amount of time. After that, it’s all a matter of being able to execute this result repeatedly.
NO WONDER WE GET BORED!!!
Seriously, does anyone like to do the same thing over and over again? Oh sure, maybe a few times is cool but eventually we all want to experience something different. Otherwise how do you explain Altitis?
Make Your Old MMO Shine Like New
I propose a simple concept. One that would take us back to our RPG Roots and insist Developers replace predictability with randomness.
Yes folks, I’m saying throw away those spreadsheets and bring out the dice! It’s time to throw the bones and let fate decide!
WHOOA! Hold on now! Don’t get your panties in a boil. And I don’t need more j-ello thank you very much! And trust me, I promise it won’t kill your prescious Progression.
For you who never played D&D and don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, simply put, everything in the game is based upon two things: Dice Rolls and Modifiers. Yes, I mean everything.
From the beginning when you create your character, to your leveling skill and stat bonuses. And yes, even NPC Encounters are based upon an act of randomness. EVERYTHING!
Well, maybe not everything. I do admit there has to be some consistency. For example, Racials and Level Modifiers are typically static. So I’m not completely sure where the line needs to be drawn between something being static and predictable and random chance with an establish modifier.
That said, I do think it would be better to have the dice determine things like the following:
- Item stat bonuses
- NPC encounters
- Player DPS and HPS.
Sure, maybe the random(20) command said the healer fumbled causing a wipe. So what! We’re battling a crazed lunatic that will do anything to destroy us. As in real life, we should expect mistakes and random events to occur. (How else can you explain Oswald and The Magic Bullet?)
Another benefit of adding a 1d12 throw to gear stats, we’re no longer bound to specific dungeon grinds. We’d be able to run our favorite dungeons not because of the loot table, but for the excitement and adventure! No longer would everyone’s stats and specs matter because everyone would be naturally balanced. Sure, someone with the same item and spec could do more or less damage. But again I would say wouldn’t that be expected? Has NO ONE ever heard of David and Goliath? (No, I don’t mean the show about a boy and his dog!!)
Like I said, I’m not sure exactly where the line between Random vs. Predictability needs to be drawn. However, I do honestly believe the more Predictability we replace with Randomness the more excitement we would all experience with the games we love.
After all, isn’t variety the spice of life?