With the somewhat recent mega-popularity of games like Grand Theft Auto, and Saint’s Row it seems like it was only an inevitability that somebody who begin to make an MMO based on these types of games. So it really came as no surprise when I found out that Crackdown developer, Realtime Worlds, was making their own GTA styled MMO called: All Point’s Bulletin. In addition to APB, however, Vogster Entertainment has come out and announced their own crime MMO called CrimeCraft. Both are promising to have fun, interactive GTA styled gameplay with thousands of friends, but there are inherent problems within that equation.
What are your top five favorite things about games like GTA or Saint’s Row? Well, if you are anything like me it pretty much goes in this order:
- Blow stuff up
- Cause some havoc
- Drive around to find some neat stunts to pull off
- Complete some heavily story driven gangster missions
- Explore the city
Fun stuff right? Well, unfortunately, most of these things will either be near-impossible in an MMO form, or completely dumbed down to the brink of impossibility.
As of today there is no MMO out there that will allow you to destroy things with explosives, and certainly they won’t allow you to clutter up world with useless junk. In any GTA/Crackdown type of game when you go on a rampage you get to see your destruction litter the streets. It’s almost a monument to your greatness. In an MMO this type of gameplay would be near impossible for two reasons: first, everything has to run through the server so the server will want to automatically delete these things as soon as they are destroyed to free up the cache. Just like how corpses don’t stick around for too long in WoW, a smoldering car won’t stick around for too long in either of these games. Second, the developers won’t want players blocking off large sections of the city for their own personal needs. Because of this they will have measures stopping people from this type of gameplay. You can’t have one player blocking off an entire street for his/her own enjoyment. Other players will get angry and the game will lose it’s popularity.
Today’s MMOs aren’t heavily story driven, for good reason too. An MMO can’t really have a heavy story because players don’t particularly care for that style of gameplay within a world. Enemies respawn, and generally no matter how many times you kill X monster, or Y gang leader they will always come back, unlike in a single player game where if you kill something it stays dead. No matter how you look at it, GTA and Saint’s Row were both heavily story driven games. As you rise from anonymity to becoming the gang leader you have to take on a number of heavily story driven missions. Because MMOs can’t really do this, it doesn’t look like any crime MMO will feature the same type of story driven mechanics.
Finally, let me ask you this: how fast is your current MMO of choice? If you play WoW, PotBS, or even EVE Online you’ll probably note that the game is actually fairly slow. In generaly, most MMOs are very slow games. Auto Assault may have been the difference but look where it is at now. A crime MMO like GTA will have to be a very fast paced game, and I just can’t see an MMO living up to that expectation from it’s players. If the game turns out to be too slow gamers will drop it in favor of returning to their old single player GTA sandbox games.
None of these problems are impossible to take on, but they represent huge problems in the face of an emerging MMO genre. Can Realtime Worlds, or Vogster Entertainment take them on? After seeing some videos of APB in action, I can rest a little easier that they are at least on the right direction. However, those same videos also showed just how much farther they have to go. Making a crime MMORPG could just be the hardest idea to manifest into an actual game today…
Thanks for reading.