Perhaps I have just been reading too much of Gamasutra’s recent multi-paged article on the Dragon Quest franchise, of which I am a huge fan, or maybe it’s because no matter which MMORPG I play I always find the game to be lacking in certain areas as compared to it’s single player brethren. In anycase, I bring to you a serious concern for the future of MMORPGs: where did all the RPG go?
Now, I know what RPG literally translates into; you take the role of a character in the game. That character is you, and you act through that character. I understand that, let me be 100% clear by what I meant earlier: an RPG videogame traditionally has a whole lot of story that goes along with your character. These storylines range from good to bad, awesome to FFX-2, but no matter how good or bad the story is the game and story evolves with your character. You have an impact on the world and as such the world has an impact on you. Storyline progression is a HUGE part of the RPG world, and yet, in the MMORPG world it is practically non-existant.
Before any of you interject with pleas of my insanity, I do understand that MMORPGs have storylines. World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and, especially, LoTRO all have storylines. However, that said, is there really any storyline progression? No, none at all. Your character levels up, gets better gear, and obtains more money, but that’s it. After you kill said boss of area A1 is that boss gone forever? Nope, in fact in about 5 minutes a new one will spawn, or in the case of instanced zones you can literally leave the zone, push the reset button, and hop back in for another go at him. Killing him has no effect on you, other players, or the game world. Therein lies the problem of the MMO. . .
You see, MMORPGs are, right now, being developed primarily to addict you to the game. They draw you in with promises of an awesome world (which many of them are, in fact, awesome) full of treasure and then supplement you with addicting gameplay that feeds off of “rewards” for continual play. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, I’m just saying that what if in stead of getting people to play based off addictive reward-based gameplay you get them to play based off a massive continual story-line progression where you, your character, can actually have an impact on the world and the players around. Doesn’t that sound more appealing? Would you seriously not at least try the game out?
If only we could get a company to take such a bold risky move in that direction. . .
Thought? Comments? Random acts of flamebaitery? You know where to leave em!